Eating Authors: Sharif Khan

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Sharif Khan

I’ve surely mentioned this before. My unconscious likes to sabotage me with creativity. I could be under a deadline, or just trying to make headway on a given project. I have things that I really need to get done. That’s when I’m most prone to shoot myself in the proverbial foot because suddenly I get an idea for a new project, or the solution to a different project. And it’s oh so shiny and cloyingly sweet. It has so many colors and textures and blinky lights and clickable buttons of different sizes. That’s the kind of a week I’ve had. And it’s hard to be annoyed, because really, the new thing is so great.

But it doesn’t help with progress on the current (and much more pressing) thing.

This phenomenon isn’t all that different from the paralysis that keeps some writers from ever finishing a manuscript, or keeps them forever rewriting. As I tend to tell hypnosis clients, the main job of the unconscious mind is to keep us safe, and at some level something about finishing a project looks like it could expose us to danger or risk or some threat, so let’s make sure we never finish, right? Knowing this, it’s usually a simple matter for me to do a little self-hypnosis and assure my unconscious mind that there’s really no problem. Once I do, the cool new idea can be set aside and I can get back to work on the thing I should be doing. The trick of course is to realize what’s going on while I’m in the middle of it, and that can take several days.

None of which has much to do with this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, other than to offer up the most tenuous of segues because, as Sharif Khan has demonstrated in his nonfiction book Psychology of the Hero Soul, he has an interest in the workings of the mind. Given the current pandemic and the focus on first responders, my guess would be that the book has been selling well.

Meanwhile, he recently released his first novel. Brave Fortune, came out about six weeks ago, a curious blend of epic fantasy and dystopian science fiction. It’s an ambitious debut, by turns metaphorical, philosophical, and literary. Check it out.

LMS: Welcome, Sharif. What do you consider your most memorable meal?

SK: I went with a friend to this exotic place, The Sultan’s Tent & Café Moroc, a Moroccan restaurant that serves French-Moroccan cuisine in downtown Toronto in my neighbourhood of the St. Lawrence Market across from Berczy Park with its dog-themed water fountain.

Brave Fortune

We were seated in a luxurious, lantern-lit tented enclave with potted palms, plush divans and pillows, and old paintings from Morocco. The place is reminiscent of 1930s Casablanca and would probably be a good spot for a remake of the movie with Bogie. Actually… no, don’t mess with Casablanca!

I had their Lamb Freekha — lamb shank, ancient grains, root vegetables, and toasted cashews. It was to die for. The meat was soft and tender and slid off the bone. I finished off the meal with some baklava and Moroccan Mint Tea, which the server poured from a great height, which enhances the flavour and is seen as a sign of respect.

The highlight of the night was being treated to an authentic belly dance performance. All in all, a sensuous culinary and artistic feast.

That’s what I love about Toronto, which was named the most diverse city in the world by BBC Radio. You literally have a taste of all countries at your fingertips. Having lived in Canada, US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, a lot of my fictional work tends to take a broader world view.”

Thanks, Sharif. I’m a fan of the full Moroccan restaurant experience, and it’s been far too many years since I’ve availed myself of it. I can sit on cushy pillows at home, but belly dancing may have to wait until dining-in options reopen and the world becomes a bit safer.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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photo credit: Marco Lappano

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