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Sweet Potato, Sage, Cream and Parmesan

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
SPSP; Shahrukh Ashraf 2013
SPSP; Shahrukh Ashraf 2013


Easter is behind us. Norooz, Persian New Year, closely preceded it. Symbolisms for Norooz are similar to Easter, spring flowers and colourfully decorated eggs, symbolizing a new birth, a new beginning; a resurrection of hope. Oddly enough, they both take place in Spring. The Gregorian New Year is still fresh in my memory which was preceded by B’aktun, the Mayan New Year. Another commonality among these events irrespective of religion, geographical location, or culture, is that each celebration involves food, eating, some sort of feast. This is something we all seem to share, besides being mammals and having the same basic physiological and social needs, like food, shelter, a sense of belonging, etc.

Holidays or festivals usually inundate us with philosophical stories in the media; even Facebook offered to review our year for us at the end of 2012. I myself became philosophical while cooking a holiday recipe as I was reminded of the excessiveness that can grace some lives yet so many go hungry even in a wealthy country like Canada.

According to a 2012 Food Banks Canada report, food bank usage has increased by 31%. The Untied Nations’ Special Rapporteur’s report on the right to food in Canada told us that 70 % of adults living in Nunavut were food insecure, six times higher than the national average. Aboriginal households are 3 times more likely to experience food insecurity than non-aboriginal households.

In an advertisement for their fund raising event, Shepherds of Good Hope, a soup kitchen and shelter in Ottawa, boasted that they have grown to 7 locations, 6 of which offer permanent housing services; they provided shelter for 7300 people last year. I respect the people and the organizations who dedicate themselves to helping those in need, but for a city like Ottawa, that is 7300 needy people too many. According to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur’s report on Food Security in Canada, these problems of hunger and homelessness can be attributed to many factors, one of them being that wages and other social protections have not kept pace to prevent these growing needs.

I pondered, “how did it get so bad? After all, this is Canada.” What happened to our Constitutional rights? What happened to social protection services which prevent homelessness and hunger? What happened to the elected officials who were put in office to protect our rights? What happened to corporations treating their employees as a human resource? All these questions led me to think that Life as we are living now is not how it was meant to be lived.

The recipe which sums up my disappointment for Life as we have made it, was this Sweet Potato and Sage Brulé. We start with a pure, wholesome fresh vegetable full of goodness, the sweet potato. Then we proceed to roast it so we can consume it. Fair enough, a metaphor for evolution? Next, we complicate it further by mashing it. We continue to move further away from it’s true purpose. Add sage, salt and pepper; an embellishment. We continue with its obfuscation, add parmesan, whisk in eggs. Let’s indulge in unpalatable excess; add cream; dabble it with butter and bake it again. We don’t stop there, we continue to wallow in greed, we top it off with brown sugar and bake it again to achieve the brulé.

In the end, we are left with a blasphemous version of the original which renders the whole indigestible.

*End*Shahrukh Ashraf

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We R the People (Shahrukh Ashraf)
Ottawa, ON
Member since November 2012


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