5 Great, Cheap Places to Eat

phd090909sWhere does a poor grad student go when he or she just can’t face the hot dog stand and the food trucks outside of Robarts?  Well, we have some suggestions for you! 

Banh Mi Boys, at 392 Queen St. West (Queen and Spadina) and 399 Yonge Street (Yonge and Gerrard), has fantastic French- and Vietnamese-influenced sandwiches for as little as $3.49.  The bread is fresh and crispy, and the unique combination of flavours is delightful.  One sandwich will give you energy for a whole afternoon of papers or, if you’re not facing quite as much heavy work, eat half and share or keep the other half.  It’s definitely enough to split.  There are also bao sandwiches, which are smaller and made with steamed bread, if you’re looking for something lighter.  For those who don’t want the bread, BMB also has entree salads for under $10.  The bright and fun decor is bound to inspire writing, and when you’re snowed under with marking, you can call for delivery.


Pizza Pide is a little farther away, at Gerrard and Pape (949 Gerrard Street East), but is worth the travel time.  The highest price on their menu is $9.99, and the pides are freshly baked and big enough for two people.  You may not want to share, though.  The left-overs taste great when popped into a toaster oven the next day.  With a variety of topping combinations, any palate will be pleased.  The combination pide, in which every slice is different, will make the most insatiably curious customer happy.  All are served with a large helping of onion, tomato, pickled peppers, parsley, and lemon.  You may also want to try their Sour Cherry juice!


Drop by El Gordo Latin American Food Court in Kensington Market (214 Augusta Ave.) for a variety of Latin American foods, all affordable.  For $10, choose three giant empanadas from a wide selection, served warm or cold.  Mexican food enthusiasts can enjoy $5 tacos, $9 ceviche, and $2 aguas frescas, while the Jamaican pasta-and-jerk counter usually serves a lunch special for under $5.  The court also houses an arepa counter and a pupusa counter.  If you’re having trouble deciding between all these great options, or you have a sweet tooth to satisfy, enjoy the chocolate and churros, freshly made.  The only drawbacks to the Court are its small space, which means limited seating, and its vulnerability to frozen pipes in the winter, which means no chocolate or other hot drinks when it’s really cold.


Schnitzel Queen at 237 Queen St. East (Queen and Sherbourne) is, I’m told, a schnitzel-lover’s delicious dream.  Schnitzel sandwiches and dinners are all under $10 and are served in a variety of combinations.  The crispy schnitzels can be topped with the more traditional sauerkraut, potato salad, and roasted onion, or, for the more adventurous, sweet and sour chilli sauce.  The green storefront stands out from the brick building around it, so it’s not too hard to find, and the interior has a homey atmosphere that will make Robarts and the seminar room seem far, far away.


Lastly, Nazareth Bar at Ossington and Bloor (969 Bloor Street West) is known as one of the best Ethiopian restaurants in Toronto.  The huge servings will satisfy two people for under $12 and are worth the wait at this small, family-run business.  The assortment of different dishes, all served on injera, are fun to try, both with and without meat, and, although I’ve not tried them, I’ve heard the tibs are delicious.  The negatives are that it’s cash-only, there are long line-ups, and the service is quite poor.  The earlier you come, the better, and don’t plan for a quick dash in-and-out between reading articles.  This is more of a just-finished-something-and-want-to-relax place.


Please add more great, cheap places to eat in the comments section!


Our Top Five Books Read in 2013, Part I

Real and imaginary lists are an inevitable part of our vocation as literary and culture scholars (just think of the queen of all lists: “books to be read”). Usually they just hover around at the back of our heads reminding us that our future as readers is constantly held hostage by our intellectual guilt and ambition. At the very least, they create endless possibilities for procrastination. After all, is there a better way to waste time in front of computer than to read lists and rankings of all sorts (or am I just shamefully admitting to my own private weakness)? Anyways, to reclaim (one of the favourite words of contemporary theory) lists for a good cause the editors of our blog have decided to turn it into a means of communication and community-building. In other words, why not use them to share some of the most interesting readings we stumbled upon last year with our fellow complitters (and the world at large)? A few weeks ago we invited you to send us your top 5 readings from 2013 and now we present you the first round of your personal rankings. As the recently-coined Slovenian saying goes, enjoy!


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he Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
After a nuclear catastrophe, Russia relapses into a nightmarish folksy world, where poor people hunt mutant mice and rich people ride troikas pulled by humans instead of horses. Ignorance and brutal carreerism triumph! Or do they?

Angelique, Marquise des Anges by Anne and Serge Golon
This historical romance set in 16th century France was a significant cultural force in my Eastern European childhood. Having rediscovered Angelique’s ridiculous and awesome adventures this past summer, I realized this book is a rich repository of practical wisdom and girl power inspiration.

Blue Lard by Vladimir Sorokin
When it comes to Russian literary sensations, I have been a late adopter. This year has been a year of Sorokin, the scandalous postmodernist whose famous novel sent Russian conservative activists into a fit. Revolting, powerful and beautifully constructed, Blue Lard ridicules the Russian canon, leaving no stone unturned. And yes, there’s a love scene between Khruschev and Stalin.

The Famished Road by Ben Okri
An absolutely fantastic novel about a Nigerian boy trying to make sense of the violent and volatile world around him, populated by ghosts, politicians, loving and malevolent villagers and a whole array of real or half-real characters. I’d say it’s magical realism if Ben Okri wasn’t resentful of the label. I woke up from this novel totally stunned and changed.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
A bestseller that I would not have read had I not been travelling in India at the time, desperately trying to understand what the hell was going on. Adiga explained India and humanity in general, in as much as India is humanity. I love to have human nature explained to me, so I loved it. It is also quite fun to read.


I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro
This debut collection of stories–mostly taking place on the border of Tennesee and Georgia–truly captures the rawness and realness of American culture—where and when experiences of Christianity, faith, adultery and sex are no longer distinguishable. In reading Quatro, I find narratives of what I have been theorizing in my own writing as “pornographic faith.”

Tenth of December by George Saunders
Who hasn’t read Saunders’ latest collection of stories?! Like Quatro, he impeccably takes the beat of beaten-down and humiliated Americans. In most of these stories, the setting is central New York State—its own northern Appalachia. Having grown up in Utica, I know. So does Saunders; who teaches at Syracuse and who writes so tenderly about the absurd yet indefatigible dignity of life “upstate.”

White Girls by Hilton Als
With beautifully and variously styled essays on Truman Capote, Michael Jackson, Eminem, Richard Pryor and Malcom X, Als completely gets us to detach racial and gender signifiers from their typical identities. Who’s a white girl? Who desires, idolizes, mimics, betrays and befriends white girls? See the list above.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Given to me as a gift this past Christmas, I finally got to read this celebrated novel. I most appreciated the simplicity of the story’s telling, and the remarkable ways in which trans-gender identity and the villages and forests of Labrador are made to resonate, in a mutual foregrounding of the other.

The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between by Stacey D’Erasmo
Part of a series of short books on the art, craft and technique of writing, D’Erasmo writes beautifully, poetically and with tremendous theoretical insight about the distance that structures any sense intimacy and the spaces of shared encounter. Having just completed my own monograph on the space of ethical and aesthetic separation that is “the decision between us,” reading this book felt like it own rendezvous with intimacy in writing.


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Burnt Child  by Stig Dagerman
A young man’s mother dies, his dad gets a new girl, young man seduces her.  I can’t wait until Ingmar Bergman comes out with a film adaptation of this lovely disfigured oedipal tale.

The Octopus by Frank Norris
The villain of the novel gets swallowed up by the secret hero–a mountain of wheat–in one of the best revenge scenes ever conceived out on the West Coast.

Transformations  by Anne Sexton
Poetry always makes a whole lot more sense to me when there are animals peeking out from between the lines.

Moby *** by Herman Melville
I always read this book before stepping onto a whaling ship bound for all seven of the seas.

Coming Up for Air by George Orwell
This book taught me that the English are much better than we are at adding joy and color to violent domestic disputes.