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Friday, Oct. 27, 2006 | Anyone who reads this column (all three of you) is painfully aware I don’t mind saying, doing or writing about outrageous things. But, the funny thing is, I live in fear that my two kids will follow in my footsteps and live life with their own feet in their own mouths on a frequent basis.

I feel like I have to be ever vigilant to make sure that my daughter, Alex, can pass as a reasonably well-behaved child. Whenever she inspires the response, “Well, she’s just acting her age,” I feel a sword cut deep into me.

She’s really a good kid, except for the occasional crying, bossiness, misbehavior and poutiness.

So when my family (including my in-laws) took a trip a few weeks ago to Victoria, British Columbia, I knew I was putting Alex (and my parenting skills) to the acid test.

That’s because Canadians are possibly the most polite people in the world. Seriously. I’ll bet you if a Canadian guy has his car jacked; he’ll apologize to the thief for being low on gas.

If you haven’t been to Victoria, I recommend going. It’s a beautiful city.

It looks nothing like San Diego, there are some similarities. Like San Diego, Victoria is a beautiful city. And just as San Diego is in the shadow of Los Angeles, Victoria doesn’t get as much attention of Vancouver, a flashier city about two hours away.

San Diego and Victoria are both border cities but Canadians are more tolerant of their neighbors to the south. For one thing, Victoria’s talk radio hosts don’t spend their time talking about building a fence along the border.

There are some other key differences. Both cities have beautiful harbors but Victoria’s city fathers feel theirs should be visual at all parts of the city while San Diego reps are happy to have their harbor be viewed by out-of-towners staying at fancy-shmancy hotels.

I must admit I had a hard time getting Alex to understand we were going to another country called Canada. Then again, she’s not alone. Most Americans don’t feel Canada is another country. They view it as North America Part Two: Not the United States but an Incredible Simulation.

But there is actually a lot of excellent Canadian culture. In fact, I’d say Victoria easily is the best place to watch television in the world.

That’s because there are lots of excellent interesting documentaries and other educational series that are funded by the Canadian government, plus all the crap I love from American TV. It’s wonderful. The only thing I missed about San Diego TV were all the Spanish language telenovelas (which have some of the hottest women seen in a non-pornographic setting).

So, we arrive in Victoria on a ferry from Washington State and the city is just the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen, filled with Victorian architecture and actual views of the harbor from every vantage point (not just from a hotel room owned by Doug Manchester).

Victoria gets more sun than any other city in Canada but I have heard that it can get rainy there. However, it was actually bright and sunny during my entire trip and I’m wondering if I had something to do with it.

At the risk of sounding like a narcissist, I have an amazing ability to bring San Diego weather wherever I go. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve visited where it was unseasonably warm when I arrived. I once went to Iceland in February and the temperature was a balmy 39 degrees.

It was actually in the 60s while we were there, so my streak is still intact.

Our first stop was a Canadian chain restaurant called Milestones, which is known for a version of the Bellini that is more like a peach-champagne blended margarita. The original Bellini is more like a cocktail but I prefer the Canadian version. It’s just more festive.

Canada has quite a food culture and British Columbia is at the heart of it. Besides the salmon, it’s possible to get Kobe Beef Meatloaf and other delicacies, such as Poutine, which rivals rolled tacos as the No. 1 best “lush rush” food.

It’s basically French fries covered with gravy and cheese. One restaurant owner told me he had to use vegetable gravy because there are a lot of health-conscious people in Victoria.

That was hard idea to swallow, that a health conscious person would actually eat French fries covered with cheese sauce. Maybe it has something to do with socialized medicine.

Seriously, I do look at British Columbia as a major culinary tourism destination and Victoria is a major player in that. Many of the local restaurants have banded together to support local growers. That’s why you can’t buy British Columbia wines (which are excellent food wines) outside of British Columbia – the local businesses slurp them all up.

Many places vying for tourist dollars have tried promoting this culinary tourism route and British Columbia has done an especially good job. Many of the restaurants we went to made sure to promote items that were locally made, including beer and wine.

Victoria and the rest of British Columbia seem to be subscribing to the Slow Food movement, which promotes enjoying a full dining experience instead of gulping down the food before the movie begins at the multiplex.

Some folks in San Diego have tried to promote the movement here but it’s been slow to catch on for a variety of reasons including, to be frank, a certain snobbiness among the culinary cognoscenti).

That’s not the case in Victoria, where the locals seem genetically incapable of being pretentious. Of course, that may be my subjective perception because I admit I giggled when one devout Victoria foodie told me, “It’s aboot the food.”

I had some of the best meals of my life in Victoria, including one at a “Gastro Pub,” called Spinnakers, where they make their own beer and chocolate. There were some bizarre sweets including a white chocolate flavored with lemon and basil (paired with a Hefeweizen) and a dark chocolate flavored with peppercorn.

I treated my in-laws to a wine dinner, which was actually selfish on my part. They don’t really drink (other than an occasional Bellini) so I got extra booze when they weren’t looking.

I love wine and food but I hate having to talk about them when I’m eating. Frankly, I only know what I like and I hate sounding pretentious. As a bluff, I tend to use words like “mmm, buttery,” when I’m forced to comment.

However, the sommall…, the sommall…, the wine guy was a nice guy who knew his stuff so I had to bluff my way through the meal.

Apparently I did well because, at one point, he brought out a bottle and said, “I save this wine for the people who know their stuff.”

It was a Cabernet and I impressed him by saying, “Mmm, buttery.”

I scored points with my wife that night.

So, it’s not easy having a wine tasting when your 3-year-old daughter is nearby. I made sure not to get drunk. Okay, I made sure not to get too drunk. Okay, I made sure I wasn’t driving.

However, even though I was tasting everything from thick juicy sablefish to venison and mushroom gravy to a goat-cheese ravioli, I kept sneaking bites of Alex’s hamburger (which was deliciously garlicky). I didn’t sneak any food from my son, Owen, but that’s because he’s still being breastfed and even when I’m tipsy, I keep some form of decorum.

But while some of my best memories of Victoria involve food, there were also some bizarre moments of culture shock. Because Victoria is supposedly Canada’s most British city, I wanted to try some fish and chips. So I took my wife to a place called “Old Vic’s.”

Sounds authentic, right? Except the original owners sold it to a Chinese family, and they kept playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” over and over while we were there.

It was good food but now I won’t be able to stop singing “I’m sure Neil Young will remember/ A southern man don’t need him around anyhow” every time I eat fish and chips in the future.

But Victoria wasn’t memorable just because of the food. I know I was worried that Alex might act her age but she turned out to be a real Renaissance woman.

On one day, she went to a tea party at the Empress Hotel and received compliments for her manners and willingness to try new foods. Then, a few minutes later, she went to a place called the Bug Zoo and willingly held a hissing cockroach and put a millipede around her wrist.

Later that night at our hotel, the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe (which prides itself on being very kid-friendly – and it is. In fact, I wish I was as kid-friendly), she went to a bedtime story reading where the hotel serves milk and cookies and impressed the storyteller by asking if she could ask for an extra cookie for her mom.

I was on such a good parenting high that I didn’t want to tell the woman Alex had been coached to ask for the extra cookie.

My family fell in love with Victoria, and we hope to return, but frankly I was happy to be back home. Just like no one can prepare you for what it’s like to be a parent, no one can prepare your body for the aches and pains that come with carting both your luggage and your kids’ stuff everywhere you go.

David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who bought a Maple Leaf sweatshirt while in Canada because he plans to travel extensively and believes it will reduce his chances of being kidnapped in a foreign country because, after all, no one hates Canadians. He can be at moyemail@cox.net.

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