Julia Dimon gets paid to travel the world and write about it, which can only lead to the conclusion that she was Mother Teresa in her past life.
OK, be honest. What does the rest of the world really think about us?
When I tell people I’m Canadian, they’re thrilled. They’ll say, “Oh, Canada! I hear that’s such a beautiful country,” and they’ll almost unanimously make some kind of West Coast reference. We have a really good reputation internationally; Canada is seen as having really great people, being really good country. And, inevitably, someone always has a cousin in Toronto.
Everyone has a story where they’ve completely embarrassed themselves while trying to look culturally sophisticated. Are you able to share yours without getting extradited?
I’ve had the occasional blunder when attempting to learn the local language. Once I walked into a restaurant in Japan and yelled out what I thought was a warm greeting, but, in fact, I ended up shouting, “You bastard!” I highly recommend reading up on cultural etiquette before you travel anywhere.
Pearson can be a bit of a nightmare these days. Any airport survival tips?
Give yourself enough time: A lot of stress comes from the rush. Pack lighter, which will save you money because many airlines charge now for baggage. Ask for a bulkhead seat or one by the emergency exit so you have more legroom.
Anthony Bourdain moment: What’s the single-most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?
I’d have to say the grossest of all was the balut, which is 18-day-old fertilized duck egg. It’s a very popular snack in the Philippines, but when you open it up you can see all the feathers and beaks forming — you can see the veins, and the hair and the fur and the formation of the eyes because it’s an almost fully developed chick.
So did it actually taste like, you know, chicken?
It kind of tasted like old turkey. It wasn’t good. But at the same time, I like to encourage people to try new things. And remember, here foie gras is a delicacy, but the concept of it is disgusting. So I often eat strange foods that would be gross to our culture because I don’t like to pass judgment. But I don’t think I’ll be making a balut omelette anytime soon.