Tasting the Global City

From historic St. Lawrence Market to Scarborough’s newest immigrant restaurants, Toronto is world renowned for its diverse and excellent foods. But it hasn’t always gained such accolades. For decades, the city was damned with faint praise as “Toronto the Good,” which really meant boring, especially when compared with its cosmopolitan rival, Montreal. In this SSHRC-supported research project, we seek to answer the question of how Toronto became a food city. To do so we examine, first, the migrant cooks and gardeners who brought their traditional cuisines and created innovative new dishes through meetings in the kitchens with their new neighbors. Second, we look at the entrepreneurs and workers in restaurants, groceries, farms, and factories that connect the city to local and global food systems. Finally, we dig into the often-overlooked realm of culinary infrastructure -- both the physical facilities of markets, transport, and sanitation as well as the knowledge networks of regulators, food writers, and cooking schools -- that are crucial to feeding the city. We hope that this historical tour of Toronto’s culinary richness will give residents and visitors a greater appreciation of the migrants from around the world who have fed us with their knowledge and labour.