Friday, 1 October 2010


“It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.” - Brigitte Bardot

October 1st is celebrated as the International Day for Older Persons. The General Assembly of the United Nations the designated this day as the International Day of Older Persons by resolution 45/106 of 14th December 1990, following up on initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing and endorsed later that year by the General Assembly. In 1991, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons (resolution 46/91). In 2002, the second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages. The theme for this year is “Older Persons and the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”

The world’s population has continued on a dramatic transition path from a situation of high birth and death rates to one characterised by low birth and death rates. This has resulted in the growth in the number and proportion of older people. This is something we see for the first time in the history of civilisation. One out of every ten persons is now 60 years or above; by 2050, one out of five will be 60 years or older; and by 2150, one out of three persons will be 60 years or older. The majority of older persons (55%) are women. Among the oldest old, 64% are women.

Differences between developed and developing countries are marked: One out of five Europeans, but one out of twenty Africans, is 60 years or older. In some developed countries today, the proportion of older persons is already one in four. During the first half of the 21st century that proportion will be close to one in two in some countries! Based on the latest available information, approximately half of the world’s older population live in urban areas.

The UN Principles for older persons aim to ensure that priority attention will be given to the situation and status of older persons. The UN Principles address the independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity of older people. This is in appreciation of the contribution that older persons make to their societies and the faith in a society that will assure the older person of their share of fundamental human rights.

It is fitting today therefore for Food Friday to give a recipe that my grandmother used to make. This is a traditional Greek recipe that is also widespread in the Middle East. It uses semolina, butter, and almonds, all bound together with a syrup and spiced up with cinnamon and cloves.

Greek Pot Halva

1    cup butter
1/2    cup chopped blanched, toasted almonds
2    cups semolina
1    stick of cinnamon
3    cloves
For the syrup
3    cups sugar       
4    cups water


Prepare a syrup by boiling the cinnamon, cloves, sugar and water for 10 minutes. In a shallow pot place the butter until it melts and warms through. Add the semolina heating through until golden brown. Stir often and ensure the semolina is toasted well. Pour the prepared syrup into the semolina mixture and continue heating while stirring, until the syrup is well absorbed.
Remove the halva from the heat and cover the pan with a tea towel and the lid over that, until the mixture is barely warm. Mix in the toasted almonds and spoon into a mould packing in the mixture well. Unmould into a serving platter and dust with ground cinnamon.
You may also wish to add a handful of sultanas in this dish.

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