Friday, January 30, 2009

Aviatrix Versus Duck

The weather warms up a little and it snows. After a while we go out to the airplane to make sure it's still plugged in, and to sweep off the accumulated snow. If you let too much snow pile up, the weight can damage control surfaces or even tip the airplane over. And the more snow we get off now, the less we'll have to get off later when we're in a hurry. I should have brought more warm clothes. I confess I thought I'd be going to the southern states for this rotation and packed a little lightly on the cold weather gear. I was expecting to be offered a ride down the ramp in a golf cart, not to be wishing for snowshoes. Maybe they should have skidoos here instead of golf carts. The rampee apologizes that there may be ice under the snow, but they can't salt the ramp, because it could damage airplanes.

We have a couple of those car snow brushes you get at gas stations, but they are a bit of a joke for something the size of an airplane. I've noticed the flying school students cleaning their airplanes off with brooms, so I go to the school office to ask if we can borrow a couple. The guy there doesn't care if I do or not, so I do and we make short work of the job. It's still cold enough that the snow is dry and comes off easily, but we laugh when we're "done" because the snow has covered the airplane up again as fast as we can sweep. The guys at the FBO say they'll sweep it off again before they go home at nine, so it will be okay for the night.

As I'm leaving, a flashy turboprop with a November registration and a custom stars and stripes paint job pulls up to the FBO. "Fancy ride," I comment to one of the FBO employees. He's bursting with 'discretion' over the VIP customer, and without me asking a single question I learn that he emigrated from Russia to play hockey in New York but now plays here, for the Canadiens. I didn't think there would be more than one player matching that description, so I was going to use some Google-Fu and work it out, but I'm sure I have a reader who knows this sort of thing without looking it up, and who will delight in telling me who I left the FBO with. He was driving an Austin Mini.

With the snow coming down, the rest of the crew was cocooning at the hotel and getting pizza. I know I'm going to end up eating pizza sooner or later at work, because sometimes it's the only thing available, but I like to forestall that moment as long as I can. I find one person who is interested in dinner out and is willing to accede to my desire to try some local cuisine. I warn him that it's a fancy restaurant so might be a bit pricey, but he's game and we walk through the snow to the restaurant. The temperature is dropping again and it's windy, too, but the restaurant is nie and warm.

We look over the menu and order in French, not from some high faluting fancy restaurant snobbery, but because the menu is in French, and we're in Quebec. After the waiter has left with our order, my dining companion asks me what part of the duck the magret in the magret de canard a l'orange I have ordered represents. "I don't know," I confess, "Breast, I thought. I assumed it was some menu word that didn't matter." Heck, half the time I don't understand all the menu words on an English menu. "Don't you know?" I point out. "It's your language." He's francophone, but we're speaking English because he's better at it than I am at French.

"No," he says. "I guess it's a menu word." He sounds a little dubious.

Now I'm scared that the duck a l'orange I'm looking forward to is going to consist of some avian internal organ so obscure that even a native speaker doesn't recognize it. In English, duck a l'orange gives me duck breast, but come to think of it "breast" in this sense is poitrine, so what the heck is magret? There must be more than one word for the same thing.

The order arrives and it's fabulous. It is breast meat, skin on, cooked to perfection in delicious sauce with roast vegetables. Even the beets were delicious. And you know what? The whole meal cost the same as a medium Rustic Italian from Boston Pizza.


Larry Sheldon said...

Aviatrix said...

Aww, hmm. It's the breast of a duck that has been used to produce foie gras. I'd be grossed out, but one comment there suggests the force feeding is done by stimulating a natural instinct to gorge in advance of migration, so maybe the duck wasn't cruelly treated.

It was really tasty.

dpierce said...

I keep a culinary dictionary on my PDA just for such menu questions. Happily, it had a definition for 'magret', but it simply explained it as 'breast of duck, usually rare', not mentioning the foie gras.

Fortuitous that you found a dining companion interested in something beyond yet another slice of pizza.

Paul said...

Alexander Ovechkin


Anonymous said...

Its always better to get out of the hotel to eat

Callsign Echo said...

I'm not a very adventurous eater to begin with, and if I can't pronounce it, I probably won't eat it. Matter of fact, if is doesn't end with "-burger" there's a good chance I'll just order a coke.*

...with ice, a straw, and free refills, or I might start yelling things like "what kind of country is this!?!"

*Excludes filet mignon

Larry Sheldon said...

Story about a loud-mouth USAian in a fancy restaurant after perusing the menu....

"I don't any of this foreign junk...ya got any American food, like spaghetti, or pizza, or tacos, or ...?"

Anonymous said...

Guess I'm a bit late commenting but it's Alex Kovalev's plane:

He's a star player in Montreal.