Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When You Talk About Food... (Poem)

When You Talk About Food, It's Complicated

From the single melting pot
ladle deep red beet soup
and remember —

the pings, the fall back,
and how the thin streak
of scarlet kept growing

too large to stop with one
hand against the sliced vein.
You spend the next day washing

the wall. Ready a spoon
for a taste of puree, dried apricot
and roasted pumpkin, the seeds

recalling replanting, once more,
what gets uprooted with rockets'
arrival, a tank

manned by boys. Savor
kubbeh, the doughy wraps
chewy and cleanly spice-infused,

and think of sealed borders,
how they double-duty as pressure
cooker, still steaming feuds,

centuries-old insults, release valve
plugged. You want to explode
the palate with a tart option,

maybe offer a hamusta calling for
lemons, Swiss chard, and zucchini
for its base. Nothing taking too

long to stew, nothing needing
more than a little negotiation
over sauces served at table. When

you talk about food, it's complicated
when everyone takes one or another
side: rice it must be for some, pickles

scented with Indian curry for others.
Just put it all out and ask who will be
first to admit that to eat like Jews

in Baghdad requires more than matzo
balls and deli food, even in Brooklyn,
that sometimes even when turshi does

not go down well, you experiment, still
make efforts to save what is dying, to
document the pinch of this, the pinch

of that, hoping the markets stay open,
aproned grandmothers in all the kitchens
simmering their comfort foods, telling

their secret to the art of fine-tuning
recipes, telling you the secret
is being patient enough

to wait to show off your purpled thumb.

© 2013 Maureen E. Doallas

My "found" poem is inspired by Edna Ishayik's City Room article "For 3 Weeks, Eating Like Jews of Baghdad", The New York Times, March 1, 2013.


S. Etole said...

Images of my mother's pressure cooker came to mind as I read this.

Tashtoo said...

Just wonderful! It's supper time here...this isn't helping. Love the incorporation of so many wonderful phrases...igniting all senses. Fantastic!

Brian Miller said...

i love visiting different places and trying new foods...lima beans are the only thing i have found i cant eat...no secret there...ha....but the sharing o those kitchen secrets as well...it is very cool to be able to catch even a bit of that magic...

HisFireFly said...

you've left me hungering for more
your words a taste, succulent

Stan Ski said...

Dinner tonight could be interesting...