Market Gypsy: More than comfort in the kitchen

It has been a year since writing the first Market Gypsy column. It has been a great pleasure to receive comments or messages about how a column convinced someone to purchase a product or want to travel to a northern territory. I thought I would share one of the most popular question I am asked. Some people ask why I chose to write about food, eating, drinking or discuss a local producer. Some may wonder why the topic would interest me when talking about fishing for the best lake trout or mixing up an earthy elixir may be interesting compared to the trials of politics, the economy, love or power.

My answer is that with all the attention to these multifaceted topics where change happen daily, I feel that these topics can be out of reach to contribute a useful solution to and if I am not offering a direct solution then am I part of the problem. Consequently when thinking about heavier topics, have I become apathetic to such monumental causes? And this reminds me of one of my favourite authors Elie Wiesel quotes, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

With that thought hanging around my neck like an albatross, I do care and that is why I choose food and drink to be the vessel to write about the solutions of such overarching universal issues such as: love, belonging, economics, politics or power, amongst others. Writing about food and drink is a broad stroke of the pen, or in this case the keyboard, towards some of the problem in daily norms. In my mind, writing about food is more important than ever, it brings us together.

Whether it is a luxury bottle of wine or a locally crafted pumpkin pie, writing about it is the expression of a province, Territory, or community as it celebrates local heritage part of a diverse and multi-cultural country. Writing about it reflects the ingredients used which is a tangible reminder of the economy or mood of an area. Writing about it reflects the struggles or hopes of a time in a specific place.

Some may question trivial hipster trends, hashtagged unicorn food and drinks, or multi flowered decorated budda bowls of yogurt and chia seeds. But they too tell a story of the latest fetish as a reflection of power and economics. Does it reflect an escape or does it reflect practicality? Does it reflect the millennial purchasing power? Do they cook at home? Will they change the food pyramid? You see it reflects a moment in time in our country.

Food and recipes have always reflected the history of an entire population through their traditions, culture, ingredients and methods to prepare or lack thereof. Writing about food is about resilience. It reminds me that history will be more than a food fad or the last three years in someone’s Instagram feed. Writing about food reminds me of those who came before us and their hopes, dreams, practicality, and community. It reminds me that everyone has struggles, fears, and economic concerns. It reminds me that fads come and go yet questions what remains.

Writing about food reminds me of the potential that lies in all of us to be part of a community. Writing about food reminds me that the simple act of cooking offers more than comfort in the kitchen it offers comfort as unity in a specific time.

Sharlyn lives in Red Deer and is a foodie with a gypsy soul. You can find more on social media and the web as Market Gypsy.

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