Mr. Charlton Goes for Tacos (Again)

I’ll try anything twice. Even if that means I’ll be eating my own words. A while back, you might have read about me heading to a Calgary taqueria called Native Tongues. And the first time I went, neither myself or Kat was impressed. I have a rule, though. If something is terrible, you always have to go back and see if it’s actually terrible. A place might have an off day. A place might have kids running the show on the weekend.

My friend took me out there, and I explained the situation. Which quickly turned into “You had a bad time? Then let’s go somewhere else”. I shook my head in true Mr.  Charlton fashion. Which meant I was bobbing around like a Muppet under a Jim Henson’s hand.

“Ahhhhwwweee no no no no.  We’re going to Native tongues for a rematch. The last time I went, it was bad. But people keeps telling me it’s good. So I’m going to keep going until it tastes better or that I’m sure everyone else is an idiot”.

My gripe last time was pretty straight forward. Even though they were pretty tasty, they weren’t worth the hefty price of $4 a taco, especially considering these seemed to be a lot smaller than the standard 6″ taco you normally get served. When I mentioned this in my last post, I had a few gourmand friends of mine call me out. “They are worth the $4”, they insisted. I wanted to believe I was right, but maybe living in Lethbridge for a year and a bit had turned me into a cheap skate.

So to my pleasant surprise, they lowered the price. All the way down to $3.50. You might think to yourself “Jeez, man, that’s not really a huge set of savings there”. But that $0.50 meant something. First, it’s a reduction of 12.5%, which is actually quite a bit for a restaurant. Secondly, it also meant the tour of tacos (every single taco on the menu) was going to run me $21 instead of $24. Thirdly, and most importantly, it meant I was right. I was right to call out this taco and its price. I need it to be known that on the subject of tacos, Mr. Charlton knows what he’s talking about.


This picture was taken from Yelp. Also, I know what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to Tacos.

The menu changed slightly as well. The last time I went, they had a beef tongue taco. It’s since been removed. I think this is a good call, as beef tongue tacos are pretty bland, to be frank. I thought about going through every single taco, giving it my personal review, but looking back on it, there’s only word going through my mind when I think about these tacos.


From the handmade corn tortilla, to the salsas, to the queso on both the veggie tacos, everything about this screamed fresh. On a bite sized taco, this makes all the difference in the world.

So what did we learn? That it never hurts to give something a second go. I think that statement can be applied to other people as well. After two tries, then it might be safe to say something is not engaging you on some level. The other important lesson is that quite often I’m right. Especially when it comes to food.

Just saying.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I pretty sure the first time I went, they were just having an off day. I remember everything being pretty weak.

p.s.s. That’s not even close to the best meal I had when I was down in Calgary. Next up; 100 day aged steak.

p.s.s.s. It’s not even steak at this point anymore, people.

Mr. Charlton Goes Hog Wild for Sausage

Let’s make some sausage people. LET’S MAKE SOME GODDAMN SAUSAGE!!!!!!

There’s a lot of bullshit when it comes to cooking. There’s this myth that a kitchen is a sacred place, where chefs shouldn’t be questioned, and time-honored practices shouldn’t be questioned. Sushi is incredibly hard to make and should be left to a professional. Steaks should be done on a grill. Mushrooms soak up water, so brush ’em off one by one. These aren’t facts, it’s bullshit, perpetrated by an industry with its head up its ass.

Sushi, steaks, and sausage all have something in common, and that’s skipping rope. You’ve got a rope? Good. Go try and skip rope. Seriously, get off your fat ass, grab some rope or an old Playnendo controller and try skipping rope. I’ll wait…

Now, you’ve probably not done the above instructions, and I commend you for not doing as I say. The world has enough sheep. I do have a skipping rope, though, and I’ll put it bluntly; Skipping rope is hard. It takes practice. It took me a week of doing it every day before I could even put five consecutive jumps in a row. Now, sushi, steaks and sausage are similar because you’re not going to be any good when you start. It takes practice. You’re going to fuck up occasionally. The beautiful thing about sausage? If you make a mistake, you have a bunch of flavored ground meat. With that being said, let’s stuff some meat into tubes, people.

Mr. Charlton’s Curry Chicken Sausage

We’re going to whip up up some tasty sausage, with a twist; We’re using chicken this time. Why? Because this sausage is a request, and Indian spices are awesome. Here’s what you’ll need.


  • A cutting board
  • A paring knife
  • A bowl, or two
  • Spice grinder (coffee grinder or pestle and mortar work)
  • Something to grind the meat
  • Something to stuff the sausage

I’ve got a stand mixer with a meat grinder / sausage stuffer combo. Works A-OK.


  • 2-3 pounds of chicken, with the skin (I just grabbed a whole chicken)
  • Hog casings
  • A bunch of salt (2-3 tablespoons worth)
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Cardamom seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Fennel seeds
  • 1 – 3 dried chiles (depending how much you like heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tumeric powder
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves
  • Hunk of grated Ginger (about a tablespoons worth)

Note 1: Nobody is going to really notice if you use powdered garlic or powdered ginger. Except me. I’ll notice.

Note 2: If you’re lazy, you could get away with replacing the spices with curry powder, but it will absolutely make a huge difference.

Making the damn sausage:

  1. Grab that chicken. Grab it! You need to get all tho bones out of that sucker. Explaining it in words would be almost goddamned impossible, so I’m going to let a pro show you how it’s done.

I’m not going to lie, this gets me excited.

  1. You got the bones out of the chicken, right? Cut up the chicken into 1 inch pieces. Keep the skin. KEEP IT! It’s fatty, and you need fat in sausages. Chicken is all kinds of lean, anyways.
  2. Save the bones for delicious chicken stock, or throw them away. I don’t care.
  3. Put the chicken onto a cookie tray, then stick it in the freezer for twenty minutes. Put the meat grinder stuff in the freezer, too. You’ll want it cold.
  4. All those seeds, cloves, and chiles? Put ’em in a pan and toast them for a bit. When    your house smells like a tasty Indian restaurant, grind them up.
  5. Mince the garlic and ginger, set aside.
  6. Chicken should be ready to go, so take it and the grinder out of the freezer. You want it almost frozen, like a meat popscicle. You don’t want it solid, though.
  7. Assemble the grinder, get a bowl and get ready to grind!
  8. Grind the meat. Throw the chicken into the hopper and push it down.
  9. Once the meat is ground, throw all the spices, garlic, ginger and salt in the mix and toss it with your hands. Put it in the fridge.
  10. Clean up the grinder.
  11. Get the casing ready by cleaning it. Smells funky? That’s because it came from the end of an animal’s asshole.
  12. Now that it’s been rinsed out, put in on the sausage stuffer, tie off the end, then get the meat.
  13. Stuff the ground meat into the hopper. This is the tricky part, and it’s a whole pile easier if you have someone to help you. It’s not something that’s easy to explain, but after the first batch you’ll get the hang of it, I promise.

Here are some pictures of the chicken sausage I made. With time, practice, and some equipment, you too can bask in sausage glory.


Chicken: Deboned


The spice must flow.


Chicken: Organized


Grinder, looking for meat!


Chicken: Ground and Spicy


Separating a pig’s asshole


Getting ready to stuff


Almost done!


Finished product


Breakfast the next day

The big question; Is it worth it?


I love making sausage because I love being in the kitchen. The truth, you’re not going to be saving any money by making these. Even if I’m using super cheap cuts of meat, I’m still breaking even. On the other hand, my sausages are far, far better than anything you’d be buying at the supermarket, mostly because even the cheapest cuts are better than the leftovers most sausages are made out of.

In the end, if you love to cook and you appreciate good food, give it a go. If cooking’s a chore, then all I’ve done is give you a job you aren’t going to enjoy.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I did two sausages recently. Chicken might be my new big thing.

p.s.s.  There’s both a Dune reference and a Judas Priest reference in the pictures. Because I’m topical.

Mr. Charlton Throws a Sausage Party

Sausage. People have been stuffing meat into tubes since human beings were scientifically classified as human beings. It’s the artful method of preserving the meat and blood of an animal with salt, encasing it in the intestine of the same animal. Making sausage predates agriculture, which makes it one of the oldest foods people have prepared. Put it this way, sausage is older than bread, the mighty staff of life. Who knew?

If you’re one of my Facebook friends, you’ll notice that I’ve thrown a ton of pictures up featuring the sausages I’ve been making at home. Since roughly the end of August, I’ve made a least six different batches of sausages, ranging from Bratwurst to Chorizo. It’s caught the eye of a couple of people, and they want to know how I go about making it.

Let’s rewind the clock back to Christmas of last year. It was the first year I spent away from my family, and I was up at a ski resort with Kat and her family. Being the wonderful people they are, her family surprised me with gifts. One of the gifts was a meat grinder and sausage stuffer for my stand mixer. This was both awesome and daunting because I’ve always, always wanted to make sausage, but had no clue how to go about assembling cased meat.

The grinder / stuffer sat on the shelf for eight months. It wasn’t until Kat bought me some sausage casings for my birthday that I finally got the nerve to make sausage. I didn’t know anything about the casings themselves, so I did some quick research after sticking them in the freezer. I made some coffee, sat down at the computer, fired the old beast up, waited the ten minutes until I could actually use it, then peppered some hog casing questions into Google. First big note on sausage casings was at the top of the list;


So I spat out my coffee, and pulled the casings out of the freezer. A little more research told me they could be stored in the fridge, in a salt brine. They were completely covered in salt themselves, so I submerged them into some water and started to pull them apart. I found out pretty quickly that natural sausage casings are pig intestines. After a good ten minutes of playing with hog entrails, I needed some answers from Kat regarding the casings.

“Hey, Kit-Kat, I know this isn’t exactly a polite question to ask in regards to birthday gifts, but how much did you spend on the casings?”

She seemed a little perturbed by the question. Naturally.

“They were a lot more than I thought they’d be.”

“Yeah, ok, that kind of makes sense. You got me a lot of casings.”

“I did?”

I was still hands deep in digestive guts. “Yeah, there’s only one little label on the package, and it says 30 x 36.”

She finally walked up and came over to the bowl of casings, as I rinsed my hands. She leaned up against the counter. “That’s all the butcher handed to me when I asked for sausage casings. I asked him for casings, he asked me if I wanted natural or synthetic casings. I went with natural. Are those the casings right here?”

“Yep.” I walked back to the bowl. “I think that label, the 30 x 36, is the number of casings times the length of each casing.”

Kat cocked an eyebrow. “What are you saying?”

I looked down at the bowl. “I’m saying we have over a thousand feet of pig intestines in our house.”

Because of this, I’ve been making sausage like mad. I don’t want to waste these casings, and even though they’ll be good for another couple of months, no problem, I still want to hustle and get them used up. Every weekend, I get myself a large cut of meat, grind it up, then stuff it into a sausage casing. This weekend was no exception.

Now, I was going to list a recipe here on how I go about making sausage, but I thought I might tell the story of why Mr. Charlton’s been going hog wild on the frankfurters. I made sausages yesterday and I’ll be making sausages tomorrow. The only question that remains is… What kind of sausages should I tackle tomorrow? Should I do a Caribbean jerk sausage? Maple bacon? If you fine and lovely people have any suggestions, let me know and I’ll try and make it happen.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I did a chicken sausage yesterday, flavored with a Garam Masala spice I put together. It’s the biggity bomb, people.

Cooking on a Campfire – Part 1

“Are those meatballs cooked?” I asked. Mom had prepared a bunch of meatballs for camping. Meatballs don’t exactly strike me as camp food, but she was also bringing a round of brie cheese, which will tell you exactly what my mom thinks about camp food. “No, they’re not,” she replied. “We’ll slow cook them in a spaghetti sauce, boil up some noodles, and yum Yum YUM!” she stated afterwards. “It’ll be easy.”
See, one of the major issues I previously had with camping was camp food. Most of my friends who are hard core campers aren’t exactly gourmets. Everything is freeze dried and eaten out of a pouch. Sometimes they’ll bring out an MRE, the Meal Ready to Eat rations that are given to soldiers serving in the army. Eating oatmeal for breakfast every day isn’t my jam. I’m a prissy city boy hipster who’ll take up issue when I don’t have a selection of at least three kinds of lentils available to me. This is a fact about myself.
When my mother suggested spaghetti, though, something in the back of my mind started twisting. Spaghetti is easy to make at home. Out in the woods, on the other hand, there’re a couple of challenges that are presented.
1) Spaghetti noodles need a big ass pot to boil in. Noodles need a big pot to swim in or else the water gets starchy and the noodles suffer because of it.
2) If you’re cooking a spaghetti sauce with raw meatballs, it’s going to have to slow cook for a long ass time. The kinds of pots that are super lightweight for camping are also super thin – anything that stays in the pot too long will get burnt. Normally, the sauce should sit around for a period of time so all the flavours can get cozy and talk to each other. At the very least, the sauce should be cooking for an hour.
The problem I ran into was we’re cooking on a little camp stove. Don’t get me wrong, Kat spared no expense when she got the Primus camp stove. The stove can boil water in a minute. It wasn’t meant for low and slow, though. Not to mention the fact that the largest pot we have was meant for two people, not the seven I was feeding.
I made it work, but it was a goddamn hassle. I had to boil three separate batches of noodles, and I burnt the shit out of the bottom of the sauce. It was a total pain in the ass to clean up. Simple and easy my crotch. It also went through two bottles of propane. So it was a slog and it was expensive. Mom then mused if we should do butter chicken the next night. Tasty, but also low and slow.
Between the seven of us, we had three burners, and cooking anything was going to eat up propane. Low and slow was costly, inefficient, and I wasn’t having a good time cooking. We had to get away from the idea of using the stove to cook our big dinner feasts. I turned to the fire. If I had my way, every single meal out camping would be cooked over hot coals in the fire pit. After seeing how spaghetti turned out, I decided internally that we’d do most of the cooking over the fire. The stove would be reserved for side dished.
Cooking on a fire is pretty easy, once you get the hang of it. Start a fire, get it going until it doesn’t have a problem burning bigger pieces, then get some glowing coals going. You want those coals, that’s where the toasty, easy to maintain, heat is coming from. My brother Kelly was thinking the same thing I was because he brought a grill to put over the fire pit. Then you just have to cook on the fire. With those coals going, I was treating it like an oven that was only cooking from the bottom. Potatoes, corn, and fish went into tinfoil bags and then were flipped every now and again. Sausage and steak were cooked right on the grill, and everything came out all tasty.

Here’s the weird thing, though. Until this camping trip, there was a stigma that cooking over a campfire was this incredibly tough thing to do. There was this strange mystique to the whole procedure, that somehow this was going to be difficult. I was under the impression that people who cooked over wood fires were some sort of wizards. The truth is, cooking over the fire was one of the easier cooking tasks I’ve had to deal with. It was easy!

Some clown in a suit somewhere has convinced people that cooking over a fire is tough. I’m here to tell you it’s not. You don’t have to be stuck to hotdogs when you’re cooking on a fire. Get a cheap little stand grill, and you can start whipping up meats and veggies just like you were grilling at home on the BBQ.

But it begs the question. People have been cooking all sorts of things on the fire for centuries. You can do low and slow on the fire. You could get a bowl of rice with just some hot coals. Bread, aka the staff of life, has been around as long as people have lived in houses, and the electric oven isn’t that old. This can only mean there’s going to be some crazy experimentation in the future because I’ll be damned if I can’t make a tasty loaf of bread out in the woods.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Brie? In the woods? Totally a good idea.

Mr. Charlton Makes Tacos

You might have read my post about tacos the other day. You might have a lot of things to say when I mention that four dollars for a little taco is unreasonable.”Mr. Chartlton is a cheap asshole” or “Mr. Charlton doesn’t respect good cuisine” or “Why the hell is Mr. Charlton making such a big deal about a fucking taco?”

Let’s talk about tacos, shall we? Tacos originally are from Mexico and predate the arrival of Europeans. The local population was stuffing their faces with tacos before the Spanish popped over. They come in a variety of styles, and there hasn’t been a taco I haven’t liked. I’ll admit, the tacos I had last week, although small, were pretty tasty. So what the hell is my problem?

Tacos are really, really easy to make. I’m not talking about the boxed bullshit that comes from the supermarket, where they have a bunch of nasty old hard taco shells with a salty powder you throw in with some ground beef. I’m talking about real homemade tacos, with homemade tortillas and homemade Pico de Gallo and the works. The whole thing is such a straight forward process I’m going to teach you folks how to make it. Can you put a roast into a pot? Can you make pancakes? Can you cut up vegetables and put them into a bowl? Then you have got tasty tacos under your belt already

Tacos de Lengua – Beef Tongue Tacos

The Tongue – Creepy Looking Deliciousness


We’re going to make this tasty

Thigns you’ll need:

  • Beef Tongue (go to a butcher and grab one)
  • Bay leaves (About 6-7 of ’em)
  • Peppercorns (Maybe a teaspoon)
  • One Onion, cut into large chunks
  • Five Garlic cloves, smashed
  • Kosher Salt (or regular salt, I mean, fuck it, it’s not that important the salt’s kosher)

Alright, throw all of this shit into a pot or a slow cooker and cover with water, making sure the tongue is submerged. If it’s in a pot, put in the over and set at 225° F. Leave it in for 6 to 8 hours. You have a slow cooker? Throw it in the slow cooker and forget about it for 8 hours or however long one of those things take. In the mean time, while this tastiness is cooking, you can get started on the other stuff. But the other stuff is really quick and easy to make, so you might want to queue up a movie or go run some errands or have a nap.


All cooked up real good

Once it’s done, take it out of the pot or slow cooker. You see all that liquid left over? Keep it! Or don’t. It’s basically soup. Anyways, there’s a membrane on the outside of the tongue. Cut it down the middle, peel it off and throw it away. It’s tough and nasty, and you’re going to want to get at the tasty stuff inside.


The tongue, with the membrane off.

Cut it up into chunks and set aside. We’ll come back to it later.

Pico de Gallo – Basically Fresh Salsa

Things you’ll need:

  • Tomatoes (Five medium sized ones)
  • Half an Onion
  • Maybe half a Jalapeno
  • Garlic cloves
  • Cilantro
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lime Juice



You noticed how I didn’t put down an amount for a lot of that stuff? Because it’s up to you. You like garlic? Throw a bunch of it in there. You like heat? Throw in more Jalapeno. I’m leaving this up to you. So people like a bunch of lime juice in there, so they add a bunch. I think cilantro is overrated, but hey, that’s me.

Cut all of that into small pieces and put into a bowl. Oh my God, look at you! You just made Pico de Gallo like a champ!


You cut up the vegetables!

Tortillas – Small Salty Mexican Pancakes

Things you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (anything works, but lard is best. I used bacon fat)
  • 1 cup of water

Mix all the dry stuff in a bowl. Then add the wet stuff. mixed with anything, like a spoon or a stand mixer or your hands. If it’s sticky, add some more flour. If it’s not smooth and holding together, add some water. You’ll notice I’m using both corn and wheat flour. It’s because I want the best of both worlds. And I get what I want (in regards to flour).

Dry stuff, then wet stuff

Once you have a smooth ball of dough, cover the bowl and let it sit for half an hour or more. Then roll that bad boy out, cut out circles (I used a small bowl) and throw on a hot pan, I had my electric range set at medium. You don’t need any oil or butter or anything, there’s oil in the dough and that will be enough. Once it starts bubbling, flip it over and cook the other side.


Action Shot!


Cooking it up!

Boom! You have just successfully made homemade tortillas. They will be the best tortillas you’ve ever had, I promise.


Plate of tortillas!

The Finish Line – Putting it all together.

We’re going to fry up that meat. Yes, we’re taking that sweet tasty meat we cooked for 8 hours and we’re cooking it again. Heat up a skillet, on my electric range I had it at a 6 out of 10 for heat. Put some of that meat in the pan and fry it up. You save any of that liquid soup you made earlier? You’re going to use a little bit of that to deglaze the pan, I used a couple of tablespoons of the leftover liquid. Once all the liquid has evaporated, get that meat to the table. Set out a spread and there you are; homemade tacos.


Fry up that meat


Set up a spread!


These tacos are bigger than the ones I had last week. No joke.

The Final Word

Were they any good? You bet. Was it worth the hassle of getting a beef tongue? Not really. If you got a cheap roast instead you would be just as well off. There’s this weird hipster idea that an establishment has to have beef tongue tacos in order to be a legitimate taqueria. It used to be a really cheap cut of meat, but the weird body parts of animals that used to get tossed are becoming somewhat gentrified.

The amount of actual cooking time is less than an hour. You are going to spend a lot of it sitting around. If you want to cheat and grab some store bought tortillas and salsa, I ain’t going to judge. The point I’m trying to make is tacos are so stupidly simple that selling them is almost a crime.

I think I made my point. Tacos are easy. If you folks like this I’ll put up other recipes or write a cookbook or some shit. Let me know.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Yes, my beef tongue tacos are better than the ones you get at Native Tongues, but only because the tortillas are crazy fresh.

Mr. Charlton Goes for Tacos

I was in Calgary for a wedding this weekend, and although it was a whirlwind trip, I had a great time. The wedding was fun and it was great to see a lot of faces I haven’t seen in a while. I didn’t get to see everyone I would have liked to, but a couple of days in my old stomping grounds is never enough time to get in and see all the sites.

Now, I love two things. Going out for food and Mexican cuisine , so one of the joints I was told to check out was a taco bar called ‘Native Tongues’. I had a couple of friends hype this restaurant up to no end, saying it was the one place I needed to hit up while in Calgary. So, me and my partner in crime Kat decided that after a long car ride, we would crush our hunger pains with some delicious tacos. I was really excited to make this taco thing a reality, so parked the car and sat down for some tasty Mexican food.

It was okay.

Here’s the deal. They were pretty good tacos. I wasn’t completely blown away, but they were tasty authentic tacos. The problem I had with them is that they were small. Adorably small, actually. Which would have been okay, except they were four bucks a pop. We both had four tacos apiece,  which is what the server recommended. We could have easily eaten ten. It’s not like me and the girlfriend are huge eaters, either. We don’t get excited for all you can eat buffets. We don’t get giddy over the prospect of massive portions. On the flip side, it kind of sucks to go out for lunch, drop $40 and walk away hungry, getting what amounts to basically a snack.

I mention this to my buddy, one of the guys who recommended the place to me. When I mentioned the price and how it wasn’t really worth it, he put up his hand, stopped me right there, and said, “Don’t talk to me about price point”.

Hell yes, we are going to talk about price point.

It reminded me of the time I went to a Tapas place in Edmonton called Three Boars. Now, I’m going to start off be saying Tapas are bullshit. Not my thing. But Three Boars is a good place, has a nice tap selection and I was usually pretty impressed with the restaurant. The guys running it are creative and I usually walked away happy with the food. Except for once.

Me and my lady friend at the time, the good doctor, went to Three Boars and got a new item. The kimchi salad topped with foie gras. I thought, sounds good! I like some spicy kimchi, I love me some foie gras, how could you go wrong?

We get this dinky little bowl of kimchi, and there was foie gras shaving on top, layered so thin it might as well have been canola oil. To top it off, this little bowl of salad (I mean it was tiny) was set at $16. It wasn’t very good. I earned the title of honorary French man that night, as for the next forty-five minutes I raged about the salad being overpriced hipster garbage.

Before I went to Native Tongues, I was told it was a little hipster-ish. Now, I listen to eclectic music you probably haven’t heard of, shop at thrift stores, and think that punk rock was at its peak in the 1980’s. If I’m not a hipster, then I’m pretty damn close. One thing I don’t get pretentious over anymore is food. I don’t have a problem with paying four simoleons for a little taco, but that taco better be worth four goddamn dollars. The tacos at Native Tongues were good, absolutely, but they weren’t four dollar tacos. It was the kind of taco platter I’d expect at Hudson’s, not at a place of this hype.

The pork and chicken tacos were a little dry, the flavor on the pork was a little weird. To be honest, the best part of the taco was the tortilla, and it wasn’t the best tortilla I’ve had (that would be Jalapenos, which unfortunately shut down recently). They were dinky, slightly boring little tacos. The first bite at a restaurant should be “Wow, that is amazing” not “Man, I can do this at home with minimal effort”.

If some clown tells you that price doesn’t matter, tell ’em to stuff it. Price matters when you’re going out for food, and if the money your spending outweighs your enjoyment of the meal, then take your money elsewhere. Life is too short to be eating over-price hipster bullshit.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Native Tongues did give me a bunch of great ideas for making my own tacos, though. The meal wasn’t a complete wash.

p.s.s. I’ll try anything twice, so maybe I need to hit up Native Tongues again at a different time. Maybe the cooks at night bring their A game.

p.s.s.s. The secret to becoming an honorary French man is to use the word ‘abomination’ to describe a salad.


Mr.Charlton Goes to the Market

I love going grocery shopping. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and there’s few things that make me happier than grabbing a bunch of fresh vegetables, heading to a butcher and talking shop before getting a cut of something, then popping over to the liquor store and grabbing a nice bottle of wine. If you go to the farmer’s market, you can accomplish all three.

Like any self absorbed hipster, I try and go to the farmer’s market as often as possible. The food is fresher. Everything is typically local, so I know that I’m helping out business’ in town. And there’s always a wide variety of food stuffs there, from produce, to meats, fresh honey, grains, and specialty stores. There’s also a bunch of people hawking their wares, from handcrafted wooden trinkets to odd jewellery. The only thing that makes people turn away from the old farmer’s market is the price. Here in Canada, you can expect to pay twice as much for a lot of the food on sale. Why is that?

There’s a couple of reasons. First, if the prices are high and they are still in business, that means that people are willing to pay those prices. That’s basic economics. If you can sell a cucumber for four dollars as opposed to the two dollars you’ll see at the grocery stores and people seem to have no problem paying the extra price, then you don’t have any incentive to lower your price.

Which brings us to our second point. There isn’t a whole pile of competition at the farmer’s market. The smaller the market, the less options you have, the price goes up. You might say to yourself “Well, Mr. Charlton, they’re competing with the major grocery chains, so the you would think that their prices would reflect that.” But the truth is, they are not competing with the major chains. The kind of people who shop at the farmer’s market are willing to pay the extra price, and there isn’t a lot of competition between vendors. All of the produce vendors might be selling carrots, but if only one of them is selling beets, then that vendor is going to have the beet market cornered.

The third reason is due to government subsidies. If you are a large farm producing a lot of food, then you can have access to a number of subsidies and grants, as well as insurance and other protection. The smaller farmers also can apply for this government money, but they certainly get a lot less, or none at all. Now this makes sense in some regards. Food is something that people need, and we need people to grow it. The number of farmers has been steadily decreasing for decades, while the demand for food goes up, because we have more people. If a farm is able to produce more foodstuff, then it should be entitled to more money. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that the mega farm will produce a wider variety of foodstuffs. A farmer who has a massive farm that produces corn, for example, will have access to more money than a small farm that produces tomatoes, beets, potatoes, beans, whatever they happen to be growing. This creates a bit of an issue, as corn is a grain relatively devoid of nutrients. We now have a scenario where the nutrient cost for food from the small farm is actually lower, but the money still goes to the farm growing corn. As a money maker, it’s a safer bet to go with growing a mono-crop than it is to diversify. This mono-crop style of farming is bad both for the environment, as well as consumers.

The system is flawed. I was going to write down some simplified, bullshit solution like ‘Hey, if we did yada yada yada, the problem would be solved!” The truth is, there’s still a lot of political power that farmers have. The subsidy money isn’t going to dry up anytime soon. Remember, most of the grains and food grown end up in processed garbage that’s making you fat and slow. The hard pill to swallow is eating fresh vegetables and unprocessed meat is going to cost you.

So my actual advice is, if you love food, spend the extra couple of bucks and support local farms. The food tastes better and is better for you. But as long as consumers keep voting with their wallets, most of the food we harvest will go into making Kraft dinner, instead of carrots.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I also bought a dozen perogis for nine bucks. They were good, but they weren’t ‘Almost a dollar a pop’ good. Ain’t always a win at the farmer’s market.