December 3 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 53  

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Eat a damn veggie, Scurvy Pete

The Lone Star
Dallas Curow

Photo Editor

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 James.

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 delights.

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.



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