Fruit, vegetables and yogurt may be the order of the day for health-conscious citizens. But ice cream, cheesecake and chocolate mousse are still the cravings of those pursuing high-fibre products and low-fat diets. In a Maclean’s survey of prominent Canadians across the regions, most insisted that they normally try to eat sensibly—but they all admitted that they succumbed to periodic and intense cravings for rich foods. A sample of some favorite delights:
Peter Mansbridge, 41, chief correspondent on CBC’s The National, has three words to describe his addiction: “Chocolate chip cookies.” He says, wistfully: “Ever since the first time I tried one, I have not been able to pass up a chocolate chip cookie. I literally eat at least one every day.” A self-described purist, he avoids cookies containing pecans or other embellishments. Says Mansbridge: “Extra chocolate chips is a really good idea, though.”
Actress Sonja Smits, 34, who plays the role of criminal lawyer Carrie Barr on CBC’s Street Legal, says that she craves European choc-
olate and hazelnuts about once a month. Half a bar satisfies a full-blown fix, and the occasional chocolate truffle wards off a temporary attack. Says Smits: “It’s a chemical reaction, because I actually feel happier when I’ve had it.”
Nova Scotia NDP Leader Alexa McDonough has gone from consuming junk food every day to eating a lot of salads and fish. “I once was absolutely addicted to those chocolate almond bars that the kids are always selling for fund raisers,” says McDonough. “But I still have a terrible weakness for ice cream, especially in a sugar cone.”
Audrey McLaughlin, 53-year-old leader of the federal New Democratic Party, tries to maintain a balanced diet. But about once a month, she succumbs to a hot fudge yogurt sundae in Ottawa’s Byward Market on her way home from work.
Veteran Vancouver broadcaster Jack Webster, 72, a regular on CBC’s Front Page Challenge, says that he used to raid the fridge and
go back to bed in a guilty huff. Webster has since shed eight pounds by reforming his habits. He says that he now limits his fits of dietary recklessness to barbecues at the family farm on Salt Spring Island. “You know, three-quarterinch steaks, medium rare, done over an alder fire on a big stone barbecue,” says Webster.
A global quest for great sushi keeps Mario Bemardi, music director of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and principal conductor of the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, coming back to Vancouver, which he insists has the best sushi restaurants in the world. Says Bernardi: “They should not allow me into those sushi places. I really gorge myself. I especially like toro, the belly of the tuna. It just melts in your mouth.”
Calgary Flames president and general manager Cliff Fletcher craves spicy, rich food. Fletcher, 55, who attends most of the Flames’ 80 regular-season games, says that he usually indulges in an exotic meal between 10:30 p.m. and midnight, after the final buzzer has sounded. Says Fletcher: “I like very hot foods, like Malaysian or East Indian dishes. There isn’t anything that’s too hot or spicy for me.”
Elsie Wayne, 57, mayor of Saint John, N.B., since 1983 and a frequent national commentator on municipal issues, describes herself as “a three-square-meals-a-day person.” But when she really wants to taste a bit of heaven, she says, she makes a special, calorie-laden dish from scallops. Says Wayne: “You put a layer of scallops in a dish, then a layer of cracker crumbs, then a layer of scallops and then cracker crumbs on top of that, and add butter. But not too much. It tastes just wonderful.”
Auditor General Kenneth Dye, 54, says that his wife “removed sugar and salt from our table 20 years ago.” He also skips potatoes because he isn’t allowed butter on them. But Dye admits that the one chink in his dietary armor is Scottish trifle. He says the rich dessert, usually a mixture of sherry-soaked cake, fruit cocktail and whipped cream, is his favorite indulgence.
Tommy Sexton, member of the Newfoundland-based CODCO comedy troupe, says that he is a strict vegetarian who normally eats what he describes as “standard biblical fare”: goat’s milk yogurt, grains and fresh fruit. But, once a month, he surrenders self-control to chocolate and dark rum. “I’ll have my chocolate fix,” says Sexton, “and then, just as the sugar kicks in, I go have a drink. I do my chocolate in secret and the alcohol in public.”
Hugh MacLennan, author of the classic Canadian novel Two Solitudes, says that he eats two scrambled eggs every morning. “I don’t read all that hype in the papers,” says MacLennan, 84. “I’ve been eating eggs since I was a child, and it hasn’t killed me yet. Everyone is entitled to their favorite food, as long as it doesn’t poison them.”
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.