My colorful life

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I can write about almost anything, except credit default swaps maybe. But I really get going when the conversation turns to fruits, veggies and color. An avid student of the “the colors of health,” by which I mean the connection between phytochemicals, colorful fruits and vegetables and their associated health benefits, I work this concept into many areas of content for various clients. And why not re-purpose it here?

Originally written as a post on New Year’s resolutions for the Penobscot McCrum Mainely Potatoes blog, here it is on the FoodWell.

Six hours north…

If you want to get away, you can drive south from Portland, ME and be in the Big Apple in just under 6 hours. Or, you can drive north and be in Montreal in just under 6 hours. Go north! It’s a foreign country and a lot cheaper and quicker to get to than France.

They speak a different language, they use a different currency (worth slightly more than ours last I checked) and the food is magnifique.  Like Portland, they have an Old Port…only it’s really old and really impressive.  So I say, go north!

Although you might want to bone up on your high school French first, if for no other reason than to be able to read the traffic signs. We were there on the weekend of Quebec’s National Holiday, a week before the Montreal International Jazz Festival. There were many signs, related to parade routes, parking bans… you name it…we couldn’t read it.

Here are the consequences of not being able to read the fine print on signs in French:

1. Within 10 minutes of parking our car right across from our auberge, we had a ticket: $55 CAN.  (The little red square with the number in it means residents only)

2. After parking overnight in a large facility on one of the quays, we returned to pick up our car and it was nowhere to be found. Stolen? Towed? Apparently we had missed the fine print on the parking regulations that explicitly stated no overnight parking on June 23rd.  Security for a cruise ship or something. The security folks did help us find the car –– just a warning this time.

3. After traversing the city on Sunday morning to find the Botanical Gardens (worth the trip), we couldn’t seem to get out of Montreal.  It being the Fete Nationale, the main routes were blocked off for parades, traffic was completely tied up…and we would have known all this if we could have read the little signs along Rue Sherbrooke.

But of course, none of this really dampened our enjoyment of La Belle Province.  Montreal is a great city and an easy road trip. We should all go north more often. In fact, the only truly irritating part of the trip was the hour wait at the US border going back home. There were no signs in any language warning us about that.

A tourist on my own turf

We should all act like strangers in familiar territory now and then. I tried it the other day when I joined a Maine Foodie Tour. It was a 2-½ hour culinary walking tour around Portland, eating as you go. A little history, a little lore, and a lot of foodie facts.

I loved it, but (and I’m a little ashamed to admit this) it took me awhile to loosen up and have fun.  Here’s why:  I had to keep my mouth shut.

My natural inclination was to make sure everyone in the group knew that I knew just as much as the tour guide. (Fat chance!) Out of courtesy, I refrained from pointing out all the really hot foodie spots she was bypassing (Hugo’s! Bard Coffee! Standard Baking!) and instead, I listened. And that’s when it got good.

By listening, I found out why Wharf Street is called Wharf Street, so far from the wharves. And where the lobsterman statue came from. And which Maine-made cheeses took first prize in national competitions (City of Ships, Hahn’s End). And how you measure a Maine lobster to make sure it’s a legal catch. I looked through my familiar surroundings through stranger’s eyes and liked what I saw (and really liked what I ate). And let’s face it, if you stopped at every foodie spot in Portland, it would take 24 hours, not 2 ½.

So I recommend it. Any tour will do…Duck Boat anyone?  But if you like food (capped off with a Whoopie Pie from Two Fat Cats), the Maine Foodie Tour has the advantage of letting you walk it off.

Literally….not

First, can you admit to watching Borat, the movie starring Sacha Baron Cohen, and finding it hysterically funny? If so, then you will probably remember my favorite scene, when Borat meets with a “humor coach” to learn how to tell a Not Joke. Timing is everything.

This scene always comes to mind when I hear someone misuse the word “literally,” which is surprisingly often. For example, overheard recently at a restaurant: “There are literally infinite good choices on this menu.” “Not,” I want to yell. Why do we say “literally,” when we mean just the opposite?  I’ll tell you: because the word “figuratively” is too long and hard to remember…Not.

Shout Out

OK, in the interest of calling attention to ingenious collaborations and creative mash-ups, this is a shameless shout-out to Betsey Swardlick who, with fellow creative Owen Curtsinger, wrote the liner notes to The M Machine, Metropolis, Part 1, recently launched by the electronic dance music group The M Machine. (One-third of which is Ben Swardlick).  The music is amazing and the fact that it is accompanied by a full back-story, plus illustrations, makes it very exciting. Remember when vinyl records came complete with lyrics, session notes, and all kinds of good stuff to read while you were listening? This is like that.

The Food Well

Here’s a little plug for the Food and Wellness Group, a team of marketing professionals (including me) focused on the world of food & nutrition, fruits & veggies, and strategies to get people to eat better. You can check us out by visiting our newly launched FoodandWellnessGroup.com website. As a member of the team, I contribute content as well as posts for The Food Well, the Food and Wellness Group’s blog. My personal angle is the language of the food & nutrition marketing biz. I call my posts “Words of Wellness.”