Tuesday November 10, 2009
He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet, Proverbs 27:7
Do you like shepherd’s pie? Perhaps a better question is: Do you know what shepherd’s pie is? Basically it is a form of stew baked with a crisp potato topping, a favourite dollop of which goes down well, both culturally and digestively, in British pubs. If you weren’t sure what shepherd’s pie is, then you will be even more confused over its nomenclature. “Shepherd’s” pie, as its name suggests, is made with lamb.
Then the question arises: “Can I make it with good Alberta beef?” Why not? It is frequently made with English beef, but it is no longer “shepherd’s” pie, it is now “cottage” pie. This should translate adequately into Canadian. But now our daughter has confused the issue even more by changing the ingredients. How much more North American ignorance is going to continue to adulterate the famed English Shepherd’s Pie?
She didn’t try to make it with lamb or beef, but with chicken, and even added corn and beans. This is not only a mockery of shepherd’s or cottage pie; neither name can be awarded to this travesty of British culinary culture. Her husband suggested it should be called “farmer’s” pie because of the inclusion of so many extra ingredients. Perhaps it could be salvaged if some of those foreign ingredients were omitted by calling it “cluckery” pie!
However, I doubt that this pie, whatever it is called and however it is made, would taste any the less great to the hungry soul in our text. A rose by any other name smells as sweet, and the same could be said for shepherd’s, cottage or cluckery pie. The real travesty is not naming the pie, it is that a billion of the world’s population goes hungry while much of the remainder feasts on delicacies—perhaps even refusing “honey.” How can we respond to such overwhelming need?
The importance of helping one at a time is illustrated by the story of a child who noticed hundreds of starfish left on the beach by the receding tide. As he started throwing them back into the sea, a passer-by commented that he was making little difference to the vast numbers. The boy threw another starfish into the foam as he replied: “It made a difference to that one.” We can all offer the local equivalent of shepherd’s pie to one family in need.