Poetry of the Kitchen: Poems as Recipes, Recipes as Poems

 I love the way poets might take a single object, or thought, and with the tight singular lines of the sketch artist, create a whole new way of looking. In the same manner of photographers, I suspect, who always seek the odd angle, the unusual vantage point.

Upside down, inside out, bottoms up, heads down, sideways.

Sometimes recipe writers indulge in the pleasures of poetry and sometimes poets write recipes, too.* The simplest of recipes, here is one, embedded in Pablo Neruda’s glorious ode to the jewel-like tomato, gift of the New World to the Old.

 Ode To Tomatoes by Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes,
midday,
summer,
light is
halved
like
a
tomato,
its juice
runs
through the streets.
In December,
unabated,
the tomato
invades
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
takes
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
sinks
into living flesh,
red
viscera
a cool
sun,
profound,
inexhaustible,
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
we
pour
oil,
essential
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
pepper
adds
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
parsley
hoists
its flag,
potatoes
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
knocks
at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile
star,
displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

*See chapter 9 in Henry Notaker’s A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page Over Seven Centuries (2017), pages 156-159.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!

Note: I wish all you a wonderful holiday season, whatever you celebrate. And even if you don’t celebrate anything at all, please, celebrate Life. I’ll be back with more after January 1, 2018!

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