Eat a damn veggie, Scurvy Pete
The Lone Star
I love James Barber, the bumbling yet endearing
Scottish gent who made large messes and delicious food on the
CBC. This man of unorthodox cooking style and a grin full of
bad teeth was known as “The Urban Peasant.” James
taught me how to cook weekdays at 3 p.m. in Grades 7 and 8.
I felt comfortable learning from him, as he was laid back
and often said things like “Ahh, jus’ toss ‘er
in an’ stir.” I learned to make everything from
rosemary roasted potatoes to chocolate pavlova with raspberry
coulis. Embarrassingly enough, I even went as far as to jot
down recipes as I watched. Yes, while other kids were hurriedly
engrossing themselves in Sega Genesis games, I was watching
Although this is obviously indicative of my sometimes nerdy
ways as a child, this afternoon ritual of mine has paid off
enormously. Now that I’ve begun my life in the heart
of the student ghetto, my love of experimenting in the kitchen
has come to my rescue. Instead of barely surviving on Kraft
Dinner, I am able to eat like a queen and on a tight budget.
Contrary to this, it has come to my attention that many of
my friends have diets so lacking in variety and nutrients that
they fear being at risk of getting scurvy. And although they
argue that the limes in their Coronas count as adequate Vitamin
C intake, I am concerned about their health. These people readily
admit vegetables are not on the top of their list, especially
since grocery shopping is a rare event. They tell me they wouldn’t
know what to do with Boston lettuce anyway.
Of course, there are exceptions. I have been given recipes
for vegetable lasagna with eggplant and Italian red wine tomato
sauce. Perhaps these people discovered the wonders of good
food at an early age like me.
But for the rest of the student population, cooking for oneself
can be a big adjustment. The constant crunch of papers and
exams, coupled with the availability of pre-made meals, does
not allow or encourage people to explore the world of gustatory
What I’m wondering at this point is: where the hell
is James when we need him? I haven’t seen his callused
hands or wacky grey hair on the air for years now! Why did
he stop doing the Milk calendars? The Urban Peasant is MIA.
I’m sure many of the newfangled cooking shows will help
students out. There is also the sensible alternative of cookbooks.
But these other options lack the easy charm and casual elegance
of James Barber’s signature style.