Number 22: The Autumn Hike Bento

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(Crispy fish fillet sandwiches on whole grain bread, sweet potato fries, and a green apple)

This was a simple meal I prepared for my hiking trip to Mount Royal Park on Monday. Actually, I thought I wasn’t going to go, until I saw how wonderful the weather was (and that’s why the bento was so last minute). You see, I was supposed to go with a friend or two, but for one reason or another, I ended up making the trip myself.

Come to think of it, I do tend to visit that place alone (苦笑).

I cheated by using premade frozen fillets. I used to insist on frying my own fish because I did not have fond memories of those frozen things from the supermarket. My mother used to make these for dinner when my father wasn’t around to cook. Naturally, they just paled in comparison to my dad’s cooking. Maybe that was how I associated the frozen aisle of the supermarket with “non-yummy food.” This was the case until a few weeks ago when I tried them at a friend’s place and thought to myself that they were okay afterall (perhaps in comparison to my own cooking).

While the fish was cooking in the toaster oven, I made a quick batch of sweet potato fries. You cook these fries pretty much the same way as you would with normal potatoes. I love their mellow sweetness, and they are especially tasty if one sprinkles over a dash of sugar and black sesame seeds. I also love the colour contrast between the purple skin and the yellow flesh. Pretty. And don’t they sort of remind you of the colours of autumn?

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With the bento good and ready to go, I headed off to “the mountain” (as I normally call it even though it’s more like a hill). I actually had visited it a few weeks ago, when the trees were just beginning to turn colours. This time, the whole forest was practically orange and red, and the grounds were covered in crisp fallen leaves. One good thing about this was that I got to kick the leaves around like a madwoman. In the middle of the forest, away from the paved trails. Lovely.

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Being my boring old self, I headed for my favourite spot by the lake once I reached the top. As I sat at the top of a hill overlooking the lake and nibbled at my sandwich, I noticed some amusing things that the people around me were doing. One of which involved a dog owner and his dog (naturally). The two had just arrived at the grass field, where a few other dogs and their owners were playing in the distance. Unfortunately, our little fella couldn’t spot his canine buddies and looked confused.

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Noticing that his dog’s difficulties, the owner held his pet up in the direction of the other dogs. With that, the little dog got back on its feet and ran over the hill to greet his friends. The dog owner, satisfied, stayed behind and chatted with other dog owners.

I also encountered a couple riding on a bike like this:

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It doesn’t matter whether the guy could see what was ahead or whether the girl could stay seated like that. Don’t they just look adorable? I was impressed. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy going to this park so much: there is always something peculiar yet endearing happening around you. Even the squirrels are more good-natured and approchable (I’ll get to the squirrels next time, I promise).

Mr. Olmsted designed a good park, at least for me he did.

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