The samosa-shaped hole in my heart

On Wednesdays last semester, I often found myself frantically rushing to get through the day. I didn’t have a lunch break in my class schedule and, admittedly partially because of my own laziness, I frequently forgot to pack a lunch. It was precisely in this situation that campus samosa sales came in the nick of time. With only 10 minutes to make it to my next class and Peel Street construction making Super Sandwich a far-away dreamland, the crunch of the chutney-filled potato and vegetable pastries gave me just the boost that I needed. 

Unfortunately, the fate of this campus staple is now unclear. After Montreal Inspections des aliments inspectors shut down a samosa sale in the basement of Burnside Hall on Oct. 22, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) decided to suspend these fundraisers until an appropriate policy can be worked out to meet city health and food safety standards.

Don’t get me wrong, three lukewarm samosas by no means ever constituted a healthy meal on their own, let alone gave me something to look forward to on cold winter school days. Each time I had to eat a samosa lunch, I had some level of regret and would tell myself that I should just plan better and make time to cook a proper meal to bring for lunch. But the beauty of McGill’s samosa sales came from their simplicity—they might be mediocre, but they were cheap and always somewhere on campus. Even if I could definitely pack a tastier and healthier meal, samosas got the job done.

Beyond just satisfying my own hunger, samosa sales provided a platform for student groups to fund their own initiatives. Without steady funding from other sources, having an easy-to-run and well-loved fundraising opportunity provided student groups an accessible way to both raise money and get their name out to the campus community at large. Thus, the unclear fate of samosa fundraisers can be particularly worrying for more cash-strapped organizations.

The significant presence that the fried delicacy had on campus for so long will surely be missed. For the past two weeks, the tables throughout university buildings which once proudly held up greasy cardboard boxes from Pushap now remain empty. Campus newspaper stands are unsurprisingly even more full, and students’ empty stomachs grumble. Even if nobody ever genuinely thought a newspaperful of samosas was a phenomenal lunch option, they held a special place in all of our hearts. 

While we wait for SSMU and faculty associations to solidify the details of their new food sale policies, we can now only look back fondly on the past. From learning the secret of pouring chutney through an oily straw in first year to scrolling through the Samosa Search Facebook page to find where my go-to lunch would be, I will remember samosas with a nostalgic affection. Going into the future, campus life might never be the same.

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