Friday, 29 May 2015

Adventures from the Archives X

This latest update looks at a hilarious little document I found regarding the 'interesting' things Ugandan Asian refugees in Canada like to eat!

What: The 1st monthly newsletter sent to all Ugandan Asian settlement committees across Canada
Who:: This report is from Sarnia's Food Subcommittee
When:  December 7th 1972
Where:  Sarnia, Ontario
So What: Showcases how interested these committees were in helping out the refugee community in any way they could. Remember these were voluntary bodies that did receive some government funding which mainly paid for the facilities and secretarial staff. This is a reminder of how well settlement operations work when local communities (no matter how big or small), volunteer groups, and the government collaborate with each other.
Click to zoom

As always here are some of my comments and analysis on parts of the report:

The best part by far in this newsletter is the underlining and emphasis on PLAIN YOGURT being a FAVOURITE food! I literally burst out laughing when I first read this at the library. It definitely does play a major role not only in my own household, (particularly for my brother - he puts yogurt on everything!) but it is a very common side dish along with chutneys and all kinds of spicy pickled vegetables and chillies. It is also a key ingredient in many dishes.


Rice pudding being served as part of the main course! Another very interesting perspective from the committee. They were probably very shocked to see refugees eating what is known as kheer alongside the main course.

"In their own celebrations they serve a lot of sweets" - Yes, yes we do! Everyone's favourite little niece or nephew is almost always the one who has plump chubby cheeks as a result of devouring hundreds of delicious South Asian desserts. As a chubby child, I cannot even remember how many times my relatives or even random other adults used to pinch the crap out of my cheeks! These are by far substantially more sweet than familiar Canadian favourites like beaver tails, ice cream, cookies, etc. The main ingredients are usually butter, sugar, and then either deep frying the whole thing or just adding more butter, sugar, and flour! Don't take my word for it, see how these people react to eating Indian sweets for the first time.

On a more serious analytical note is the gendered associations of alcohol. "Some of the men will drink alcoholic beverages, but none of the women". Now, this could of course only relate the those that were in Sarnia but there is a very interesting gender divide regarding the consumption of alcohol. This is something I will definitely look into as it is the first time I've seen it mentioned and it hasn't come up in any of the interviews I have done thus far.

If you are looking for more ideas or some fun cook books that were actually published by refugees themselves check out the following: links: The Settler's Cookbook and Mamajee's Kitchen

Until next time, happy eating and I wish you all the very best!

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