I love food, which is why I love Toronto.

From hole-in-the-wall shawarma joints to upscale supper clubs, Toronto has no shortage of restaurants to delight your senses. It’s not just about taste though; it’s also about variety. Toronto represents flavours from all over the world – Indian, Korean, Persian, French, Italian and the list goes on.

Although Toronto might not have Michelin star restaurants, in my mind (and in my belly) there is truly no place like my home, Toronto. The variety of our cuisine defines more than just a foodie’s heaven – it represents the diversity of our unique city. Tourists will find themselves taking in a rare cultural experience in the streets of Toronto. If they close their eyes they might hear the nuances of a conversation in a foreign tongue, if they open their eyes they might see the multicultural individuals that make up our city and, if they take in a huge breath, they might smell the food.

Food in Toronto is more than just a means to satiate your appetite. It is a channel in which to discover the dynamics of this great city. The ingredients used in the recipes might have changed on its route overseas and across borders, but the hands that make it most certainly have not. You cannot fake “genuine” or “authentic” in Toronto because there will always be a palate to spot the replicas. Being born and raised in Toronto, I don’t know if I could ever be content eating one type of food for the rest of my life. This city never ceases to satiate my appetite both culturally and physically.

Toronto will always have my heart, because it has found its way there through my stomach.

Justine Yim, Contributor

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Public speaking has never been my thing. That goes through my mind every time I am about to do anything that has to do with public speaking. This issue of nerve, however, is very peculiar as it only affects me during speeches or public speaking.

My high school years were full of drama presentations in front of large audiences and I was rarely nervous for those. I was really only worried about other things, that were out of my control, failing to happen. Saying my lines in front of people was not an issue.

I thought if I was able to “act” in front of an audience, doing a presentation in front of my classmates, or people I know, shouldn’t be a problem. I really thought that I had helped myself overcome the fear of public speaking with drama classes, but I guess I was wrong.

I have now realized that everyone has fears when they do public speaking; there is not one person who is immune to it. There are certainly people who are better at it, but I believe there are no natural born speakers. After four years of university presentation, I can now say that it comes down to practice. When you are sure of what you are talking about the fears go away faster.

Gustav Lau, Contributor

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Autumn in Toronto may just be one of the greatest seasons in the city. Whether it’s because of the changing colours of the leaves, the fresh chill in the air that’s slowly rolling in or the various events that are held during those months that make the fall season so memorable. If we’re lucky enough to get an Indian summer, that makes the autumn that much more fruitful (who doesn’t love a longer patio season?).

The two occasions that top my list of things to look forward to in Toronto during autumn are Thanksgiving and Nuit Blanche. Thanksgiving is a given – it’s a long weekend where you get to stuff your face full of succulent, golden turkey, mashed potatoes with warm gravy on top and everything else that you crave the rest of the year. But it’s Nuit Blanche that sees the city come together and transform into one glorious, jam-packed art exhibit. I usually can’t stand crowds, but I embrace it wholeheartedly during Nuit Blanche. The night is too exciting and lively to be cursing at the masses shuffling toward the next exhibit.

Nuit Blanche is the one night where Torontonians are no longer limited to using only the sidewalks and when we get to indulge in 4 a.m. nightlife – all while being exposed to unique pieces of art that define our increasing presence in the world as an artistic and urban city. Our city is expanding from every angle we look at it, and Nuit Blanche is just one of the ways that we’re marking our territory in the world of urban, cultural hubs.

Natasha Radlovic, Contributor

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Call them districts or burroughs or neigbourhoods, but I call them mini cities. And they’re Toronto’s most beautiful feature. You call one home until another beckons you;  you find yourself discovering a whole new world, maybe just blocks away from where you were before.

My current mini city is Roncesvalles, and I could stay here forever. I walk the strip every day, popping by to visit my favourite boutique owners, coffee hubs and tuck shops. Every person has a dog and a toddler (and an arts degree). Every corner has a history. On a warm day, I visit High Park. On a cold day, I tuck into a book at the library.

I know that my mini city is but one of hundreds; I’ve lived in others before. And so, I know the intrigue of Little Italy, the quiet hipness of Bloorcourt and the bustle of Queen West.

Mini cities permeate every corner of Toronto life. Meeting a stranger here doesn’t follow the universal standard of introduction: what do you do? Instead, we ask where you come from. We want to know, of all the mini cities, where you’ve decided to settle in Toronto.

Because where you’ve settled says a lot about you, your interests, your life. If I know your mini city, we bond over where to brunch, shop local produce or find the most coveted vinyls. If I’ve never visited your mini city before, I now have a chance to learn all about it. Maybe, I’ll plan to visit it next weekend. Maybe, it’ll be my next home.

That’s how I keep discovering more and more about Toronto, though I’ve been living or visiting here all my life. Thanks to our mini cities, I might never have to leave.

Kaitlin Wright, Contributor

Kaitlin Wright is a freelance writer and editor from Toronto, Canada. You can find her editorial work in She Does The City, FS Local (Toronto and Canada), Toronto Pronto and BallNRoll. To read more from Kaitlin, check out her blog: http://kaitlinwright.ca/category/blog/

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Toronto Festivals: Celebrating Diversity

Toronto is well recognized as one of the most diverse cities in the world.  One of the ways that this city’s diversity can be experienced is through its festivals.  Every year, Toronto is a host to many festivals including, Pride Toronto, Caribana, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Toronto’s festivals showcase the city’s atmosphere of acceptance, tolerance, and openness to diversity. The festivals display the variety of cultures that can be experienced throughout the city. From large internationally renowned, to neighborhood focused, there are a wide variety festivals to experience all year round.  Each festival is unique and provides a different experience for festival-goers.

Festivals are also important because they create connections between people and culture.  They bring people together to enjoy the diversity that this city has to offer. These interactions create memorable moments while learning about different ethnicities. The variety of festivals that can be found in Toronto furthers its reputation as a one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Juanita Kwarteng, Contributor

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The Gastro Hub That Speaks to All

Toronto’s voice is emulated throughout the city through the language of diversity. With diversity comes culture, and with culture comes the most beneficial commodity known to man: food.

Food speaks volumes of comfort, diversity and representing various demographics in a visual, sentimental way. Sharing food is a simple gesture that leads to engaging with the public and establishing relationships with people and their stories. Toronto is a city that accepts those challenges of integrating culture. Since Toronto is a mecca of gastronomy, there’s something to satisfy every craving.

Restaurants are the voice of diversity, whether authentic or new-aged. Eating a comforting meal made by someone who understands its ingredients and methods transports you on an adventure, with the benefit of being right at home. Now there’s some food for thought.

Francesca Bartolomeo, Contributor

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Toronto: Home at Last

Simply put, I love Toronto. As someone who moved around quite often growing up, it is the one the place where I truly feel at home. The beautiful thing about Toronto is that there’s always something new to discover about the city. It could be a new restaurant or a café, a street you’ve never walked down before, or even a small park tucked between buildings, hidden from the hustle and bustle of the city.

I have lived in Toronto for almost seven years now. In some ways I’m still surprised I’ve been here for that long. Seven years ago I came to Toronto with the goal to complete my undergraduate degree without any consideration of settling down. Like many other international students, I assumed I would return home after completing my degree. However, now that I look back on it, the idea of settling anywhere else other than Toronto seems very strange to me.

My favourite place in Toronto is the harbourfront. During the summer I would take long morning walks on the harbourfront. I could easily spend an hour or two walking around, taking in the sights and breathing in the morning air.  The weather was usually pleasant, the crowd was minimal and the sight of the water never got old. It is the one place I can escape to whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed. It is the once place I can go to have peace of mind.

Fawaz Azim, Contributor

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