I believe in certain English dialects the word “grit” denotes a certain kind of integrity, an ability to stand up in the face of opposition and challenge. In ancient Greek it also means “plastered with all manner of crap”. That’s the literal translation, but I think the gist comes across okay.
Certainly the word “gritty”, then, would apply to Kensington Market. I think the most visible evidence of this is in the minor decorative embellishments that secretive artists leave on storefronts and buildings. When combined with the collected remnants of a fair day’s commerce, the results can be a feast for the senses.
To me the most enjoyable part of the neighbourhood is the fact that the local bon vivants are keen to leave their calling cards on every establishment of note; a sort of how-do-you-do to visitors to the area. Just a really nice touch, I find.
I have some hazy memories of shopping here on the weekends with the folks sometimes. The butchers are pretty famous and the cheese shops insist that you taste before you buy. I recommend going early in the morning on a Saturday and buying a fresh roll, coffee, and walking around to the cheese shops and having yourself a snooty breakfast. Haha! I’d never buy that much cheese, and certainly not for that much!
But I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that there aren’t good deals to be had or crannies worth exploring. This is also a spot worth perambulating if you’re into that whole graffiti taggery business.
I’m not. But to each his own; ain’t my ‘hood. And I can sympathize with those who would liken “grit”, in this context, to something like used sandpaper. I can see that too, but I’d rather not. Besides, if I didn’t come here for the grit then I might as well have hung around in my local 24-hour Loblaw, at my leisure. But entirely cheeseless. So you see the dilemma. You take your kicks with your licks, as they say. Whoever they are, because I just made them up.