2000 Talbot Rd W
Windsor, ON N9A 6S4, Canada
by Beau Cadiyo
Groggy, I walked to the Caesar's lobby in an effort to get my bearings. The man behind the courtesy desk allowed me to ask the question that had been marinating in the back of my mind ever since we’d crossed the border:
"What's that one Canadian fast food place that people love so much?"
He was perplexed. "Arby's?"
The ridiculousness of his statement shocked me so much that I paused. Arby's? Canadian? It's beef, dude. And bread. And corn sugar-based sauce. They have salted, seasoned curly fries and milk shakes. They have coupons that give you five roast beef sandwiches for five dollars. There’s no way it could be anything but American. I knew I could never trust him ever again.
Instead, I said, "No - they send food to the troops in Afghanistan. I heard that they have really good coffee."
"Oh, Tim Horton's!" he exclaimed.
"Yes! Where's the nearest one?"
The woman waiting behind me looked intrigued at this exchange. That didn't surprise me. I'm Beau Cadiyo. I know sandwiches. Maybe she, too, thought Arby's was Canadian, and I blew her mind with truth. Regardless, I ignored her immediate and intense attraction to me. Sandwich Science™
can do that to a girl; you - or, rather, I - get accustomed to it.
He gave me directions, to which I nodded and smiled and didn't pay attention. I walked through sweltering streets, sweat soaking my shirt, skivvies and shorts. The core of downtown Windsor has the distinct feeling of an abandoned tropical tourist town. There are bars and restaurants, weathered facades and a few empty storefronts. Trees line the street, there's not much traffic, and there were far more young, attractive women than there were men of any age. Indeed, the paramedics we saw were women, and the first three cops I saw were women. Very young, very, very attractive women. I stopped to ask for directions from each of them.
Upon walking in, Tim Horton’s seems to be a mix between Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's. There were several people there even though it was mid-afternoon, and three staff members seemed busy, although I was the only one in line. I was told that four Canadian dollars and ninety-seven Canadian cents would get me a chicken salad sandwich, a donut and a drink. That’s what I got. I’m a sandwich man; I’m not an economist.
The first difference I noticed was that Tim Horton’s used real flatware and silverware – a beautiful sight in a fast food joint. Second, Tim Horton’s is quality. The toasted bread was hearty, the chicken salad was excellent, the lettuce was crispy and the tomato tasted both fresh and ripe. My donut was unlike any I’d ever had before; it was chewy and dense and had an aroma that indicated they used real, fresh blueberries in it. It was solid, offered resistance to my teeth, and was still warm from being cooked.
I thought of California when I was driving back across the border into Detroit. I heard once that there is nowhere in the world where the difference between a developed and developing nation is so starkly laid out as the border between San Diego and Tijuana. I think that the border between Detroit and Windsor is the fast food equivalent: on the Windsor side is high-quality food, with reusable utensils and real fruit, represented by Tim Horton’s, and on the Detroit side is crap that makes people obese, represented by Arby’s, which is American, by the way, and maybe I shouldn't be proud of that fact but I am.