There I was, sitting at work, minding my own business, reading my daily assortment of e-mail, when I got tipped off to some very strange Montreal food news indeed by one of our loyal readers. Remember Simcha's? Well, it seems some folks got permission from Simcha Leibovich's niece to shoot a video inside the now-abandoned premises of the once-great Plateau grocery. The idea was to celebrate the man (and Fanny, too, presumably) by shooting a documentary/homage/"posthumous pickle party" on-site. The gathering ended with the assembled party liberating a barrel of Simcha's legendary pickles and triumphantly rolling it across the street to Restaurant The Main...
You know how these things are.
At the time that this news was first reported, the idea was that Simcha's finest would be available off-menu to anyone who asked. While they lasted, those in the know could have a Simcha's with their smoked meat instead of one of The Main's standard run-of-the-mill dill pickles. Readers/Simcha's fanatics were urged to hurry on down to "experience the last batch." Problem is, when people did start to go on down they were told that Simcha's pickles were, in fact, not available. When they asked why, the line they got was that the barrel was being donated to local benevolent organization Sun Youth (?). When this unfortunate news came over the wire, readers/Simcha's fanatics were instructed to "speak to Peter." Hopefully he would sort things out, we were told. Intrigued by the intrigue, I passed by The Main on my way home from work. I wasn't going to miss out on my chance, no matter how remote. When I went in I was happy to see my favorite waitress was there--the one who often works the late shift with the Shawinigan Red hair. I took her presence to be a good omen. I asked her about Simcha's pickles and she gave me an uncharacteristic exasperated air. It was clear she'd been asked about them a few times already. Not wanting to break the bad news to me herself, she deferred to the smoked meat jockey behind the counter. He confirmed that awful rumor: the owner had decided to donate the barrel of pickles to charity (??). The barrel was due to be delivered to Sun Youth. When I asked him why, he told me he wasn't sure.
An untimely death. A late-night posthumous pickle party. A moonlight barrel-rolling procession. A clandestine magic pickle sale. A mysterious and inexplicable charitable donation. This town is truly bizarre sometimes.
My copy of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable has the following definition for the listing "Relic, Christian": "The corpse of a saint, or any part thereof; any part of his clothing; or anything ultimately connected with him" (my emphasis). Montreal is not the city it was 45 years ago or so. Post-Quiet Revolution, we find our saints and our relics in the most unlikely of places.
p.s.--Finding this a little hard to believe? You can read the abovementioned thread here. Or you can just go to The Main and ask for "Simcha's pickles." One look will say it all.