Hogtown Stories is a series of portraits and short stories about Torontonians by Jeremy Korn, a photographer and urban planner. Find more photos of Emily and past stories at hogtownstories.com.
I grew up just outside of Kingston, on a really small rural island called Howe Island. It was a nice place to grow up.
As a kid, I loved to cook. My parents made me a deal. I was able to get out of doing the dishes if I cooked dinner. It wasn’t a very difficult decision for me!
I loved cooking anything from Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook. She used to have an Indian cooking show every Saturday and I watched it all the time. Before long, I became obsessed with Indian food.
In 1991, my family and I visited Toronto, and Little India really stood out in my mind. I thought it was just the coolest place ever! During that visit, I bought a bedspread on Gerrard Street. It had these little mirrors decorating it. When I got back to Howe Island, my room took on a makeshift Indian theme.
My interest in the culture and the cooking continued throughout my adolescence and into university. In 2003, I took a semester off and travelled around South Asia. Since I was so close, I made sure to finally see India on that trip.
Ingredients from India aren’t all widely available in North America, so it was quite an experience to be able to taste everything there. Obviously, it was far better than what I had cooked as a child.
When I moved to Toronto in 2006, I naturally decided to live around the corner from Little India. Every Sunday, my best friend and I would go to open houses. We weren’t looking for a house to buy, but we loved the neighbourhood so much. Afterward, we would go stuff our faces at Udupi Palace. I still go there all the time.
Since my first visit to India, I’ve been craving another trip there. Until then, I’ll be spending my weekends on Gerrard Street.
Emily Munroe is executive director of 8 80 Cities, a non-profit public space firm based in Toronto.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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