Henri Schick, a Pointe-Claire delicatessen owner, says if the past week has taught him anything it’s that if the Office québécois de la langue française issues you a complaint, it’s time to get cooking.
And that’s how Pasta salad Marois, a macaroni salad made with elbow noodles, carrot shreds and mayonnaise, came to be on the menu at Swiss Vienna Pastry and Delicatessen at Plaza Pointe-Claire.
The latest language tensions are no laughing matter, but Schick said, he thought some comic relief was in order after last week’s dust-up at Buonanotte, the Montreal Italian restaurant singled out for using the Italian word ‘pasta’ on its menu.
“I decided I might as well have some fun,” said Schick, as he wiped his hands on his apron while standing at the shop’s counter on Tuesday. “I took the macaroni salad and renamed it.”
It’s not a runaway bestseller, he said, but at $10.90 a kilogram, the cheapest item in the salad bar is putting a smile on the faces of his mainly English-speaking customers.
A Facebook post featuring a picture of the salad with the cutline, “This one’s for you Pauline Marois,” has wracked up 7,000 hits since Monday afternoon and, he added, the post is sparking lively chatter.
“Hard to digest,” wrote one Facebook fan. “Hope nobody gags,” added another.
Schick said it has all made it easier for him to deal with his own frustrations with Quebec’s language police.
In early January, he said, the bakery-delicatessen business his family has operated in the Pointe-Claire strip mall for the past 50 years, received a complaint of its own from the OQLF — not its first.
The complaint now posted in the storefront window outlines the numerous ways the business is violating Quebec’s French language charter.
Among the offences:
In-store signs advertising Russian rye and Canadian rye.
The word “welcome” written in 35 different languages in the storefront window.
Stickers reading “enter,” “push” and “pull” on doors.
Some French words less than twice as large as English words on some store signs.
Schick said he has no plans to do anything to the signs in his store and adds he doubts that anyone even made a complaint. He said he would like to see the Office forced to publicly name complainants.
“It’s like 1976 all over again; a witchhunt,” said Schick. “All my signs are bilingual,” he said. “My beef is they just want us to wipe out the English.”
To read Brenda O’Farrell’s blog on this topic, click here.