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November 10, 2021

Jack the Alligator

I’ve have so much free time these days that I am beginning to feel nostalgic for my very first customers. I greet them in my mind’s eye, vivid and real, just as if I were back behind the restaurant’s counter stirring a pot of soup.

One person who stands out in this imagined procession is Jack the Alligator. A wealthy Quebecer who was not even 50 and already retired, living in the well-known American Everglades. On a trip to Montreal to visit his brothers, he stopped by to try our buckwheat crêpes that he had heard so much about.

After generously buttering his large crêpes, Jack rolled each one up with his stocky fingers and then dunked these “cigars” into a molasses-filled saucer. He swallowed them as quickly as a big lizard might.

“Food is the only pleasure you get three times a day for your whole life!” exclaimed the Alligator, (knowingly) paraphrasing the famous statesman Talleyrand.

Hungry for more home-cooked flavours, the Alligator then ordered two white toasts to taste our creton spread. Then he polished off a large bowl of our famous baked beans with pork. Gushing with praise, the green-eyed Alligator promised he’d return for lunch to enjoy the day’s special, shepherd’s pie, served with fresh, marinated beets and an upside-down pineapple cake!

Jack, a permanent smile lighting up his face, came back to eat at our place each day of his 18-day visit. On the last Friday in Montreal, he surprised me with a huge bouquet of roses and an invitation to dinner that evening.

I will never forget Jack’s visit, because the obvious delight our homemade food brought him was an important sign that we were on the right track.

Today, in honour of Jack the Alligator, I am sharing with you my precious homemade creton recipe.

In a good-sized pot, place about 2 pounds of ground pork (not too lean).

Add an onion chopped medium fine, along with 2-4 chopped garlic cloves, according to your taste.

Turn the element on low and stir until the meat begins to brown a little. Add about a cup of milk and a cup of very finely chopped breadcrumbs. Season to your liking with salt and pepper, and a little cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Gently stir continuously for a good 35-40 minutes on very low heat.

You’ll see, this homemade creton makes a delicious topping for your morning toast or a satisfying snack at any time of the day. It also freezes well without losing its flavour.



Psst... That evening, we ate shark from Florida at the restaurant Le Vieux Pêcheur in Dorval, followed by a few Irish coffees that were especially delicious. The following day, Jack left for the States and I, thank goodness, continued to open new restaurants.