April 2010


I was just catching up with some of my new favorite foodie blogs this morning, and came across a post about notes in lunchboxes.  A very sentimental and sweet posting, with some great comments from readers’ about their experiences with lunchbox notes.

One reader shared that her mother wrote haikus on her bananas.  How awesome is that!?!  Now I’m obsessed with the idea, and I’m going to have to figure out a way to convince my husband Randy to take a lunch to work so that I can surprise him with a love haiku (and I have to get back into the practice of writing haikus, of course).  Considering he almost never packs a lunch, this is going to be quite the challenge.  Perhaps after my garde manger class, I’ll get so good at making sandwiches and salads that he will not be able to resist my mid-day to-go meals.  Wishful thinking, I know.

Anyway, on to the last two parts of the Erica Jong poem “Fruits and Vegetables” in honor of National Poetry Month.

I’m a bit nervous about posting the last 2 sections of this poem on my blog.  Really, I’m nervous about the last section, because it’s . . . shall we say, a bit . . .  sensual.  So, God, please let this blog not show up in any dirty searches.

It’s just good poetry, for Pete’s sake!

17

Astonishment of apples. Every fall.
But only the Italians are into grapes,
calling them eggs.
O my eggs,
branching off my family tree,
my father used to pluck you
leaving bare twigs on the dining room table,
leaving mother furious on the dining room table:
picked clean.
Bare ruined choirs
where late the sweet.
A pile of pits.

18

Adam naming the fruit
after the creation of fruit,
his tongue tickling
the crimson lips of the pomegranate,
the tip of his penis licking
the cheeks of the peach,
quince petals in his hair,
his blue arms full of plums,
his legs wrapped around watermelons,
dandling pumpkins on his fatherly knees,
tomatoes heaped around him in red pyramids . . .

peach
peach
peach
peach
peach

he sighs

to kingdom come.

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The call from my enrollment advisor was  about a lousy form that I have to return to him – for a second time.  But, hey, that’s OK, stuff gets lost sometimes and it’s no big deal to send it again. And, he’s just making sure I’m all set to get registered for classes on the 19th.  I think it will feel official when that happens!

Meanwhile, let’s continue to be inspired by poetry.  Parts 13-16 of Erica Jong, “Fruits and Vegetables.”

13

But the poem about bananas has not yet been written. Southerners worry a lot about bananas. Their skin. And nearly everyone worries about the size of bananas, as if that had anything to do with flavor. Small bananas are sometimes quite sweet. But bananas are like poets: they only want to be told how great they are. Green bananas want to be told they’re rip. According to Freud, girls envy bananas. In America, chocolate syrup & whipped  cream have been known to enhance the flavor of bananas. This is called a banana split.

14

The rice is pregnant.
It swells past its old transparency.
Hard, translucent worlds inside the grains
open like fans. It is raining rice!
The peasants stand under oiled
rice paper umbrellas cheering.

Someone is scattering rice from the sky!
Chopper blades mash the clouds.
The sky browns like cheese souffle.
Rice grains puff  & pop open.

“What have we done to deserve this?”
the peasants cry. Even the babies
are cheering. Cheers slide from their lips
like spittle. Old men kick their clogs
into the air & run in the rice paddies
barefoot. This is a monsoon! A wedding!

Each grain has a tiny invisible parachute.
Each grain is a rain drop.

“They have sent us rice!” the mothers scream,
opening their throats to the smoke . . .

15

Here should be a picture of my favorite apple.
It is also a nude & bottle.

It is also a landscape.
There are no such things as still lives.

16

In general, modern poetry requires (underline one):  a) more fruit; b) less fruit; c) more vegetables; d) less vegetables; e) all of the above; f) none of the above.

Final parts 17 and 18 tomorrow!

(Didn’t you love how she stuck a grain – rice – into a poem called “Fruits and Vegetables?”  Clever.)

Next 2 parts in the Erica Jong poem, “Fruits and Vegetables”

11

(Artichoke, after Child): Holding the heart base up, rotate it slowly with your left hand against the blade of a knife held firmly in your right hand to remove all pieces of ambition & expose the pale surface of the heart. Frequently rub the cut portions with gall. Drop each heart as it is finished into acidulated water. The choke can be removed after cooking.

12

(Artichoke, after Neruda)

It is green at the artichoke heart,
but remember the times
you flayed
leaf after leaf,
hoarding the pale silver paste
behind the fortresses of your teeth,
tonguing the vinaigrette,
only to find the husk of a worm
at the artichoke heart?
The palate reels like a wronged lover.
Was all that sweetness counterfeit?
Must you vomit back
world after vegetable world
for the sake of one work
in the green garden of the heart?

I was working like a madwoman yesterday, so no blogging for me.

I also didn’t have time to return a call from my admissions advisor from Kendall!  Curious to hear what he has to share – something about registering for classes (yippee!).  I always get so excited when I hear from him, because I’m eager to get started!  But that will have to wait for a few hours. I don’t think he would appreciate a phone call at 5:45 in the morning.

The morning is a good time to get poetry and food on the mind, so in honor of National Poetry Month, the 18-part poem, “Fruits and Vegetables” by Erica Jong continues with parts 6-10.

6

A poet in a world without onions,
in a world without apples
regards the earth as a great fruit.

Far off, galaxies glitter like currants.
The whole edible universe drops
to his watering mouth . . .

Think of generations of mystics
salivating for the fruit of god,
of poets yearning to inhabit apples,
of the sea, that dark fruit,
closing much more quickly than a wound,
of the nameless galaxies of astronomers,
hoping that the cosmos will ripen
& their eyes will become tongues . . .

7

For the taste of the fruit
is the tongue’s dream,
& the apple’s red
is the passion of the eye.

8

If a woman wants to be a poet,
she must dwell in the house of the tomato.

9

It is not an emptiness,
the fruit between your legs,
but the long hall of history,
& dreams are coming down the hall
by moonlight.

10

They push up through the loam
like lips of mushrooms.

I have to keep inspiration running high for my coming adventures in culinary school. So, in honor of National Poetry Month, I’m publishing Erica Jong’s poem “Fruits and Vegetables” in 18 parts over several days.

Published below are parts 4 and 5. See yesterday’s post for parts 1-3.

4

Cantaloupes: the setting sun at Paestum
slashed by rosy columns.

5

I am thinking of the onion again, with its two O mouths, like the gaping holes in nobody. Of the outer skin, pinkish brown, peeled to reveal a greenish sphere, bald as a dead planet, glib as glass, & an odor almost animal. I consider its ability to draw tears, its capacity for self-scrutiny, flaying itself away, layer on layer, in search of its heart which is simply another region of skin, but deeper & greener. I remember Peer Gynt. I consider its sometimes double heart. Then I think of despair when the onion searches its soul & finds only its various skins; & I think of the dried tuft of roots leading nowhere & the parched umbilicus, lopped off in the garden. Not self-righteous like the proletarian potato, nor a siren like the apple. No show-off like the banana. But a modest, self-effacing vegetable, questioning, introspective, peeling itself away, or merely radiating halos like lake ripples. I consider it the eternal outsider, the middle child, the sad analysand of the vegetable kingdom. Glorified only in France (otherwise silent sustainer of soups & stews), unloved for itself alone – no wonder it draws our tears! Then I think again how the outer peel resembles paper, how soul & skin merge into one, how each peeling strips bare a heart which in turn turns skin . . .

Tomorrow:  parts 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

I rushed to get my application submitted to Kendall College prior to the April term beginning. I was quickly accepted, and now I’m playing the good ‘ol waiting game.  I wanted to start classes this month, but alas, there was not enough demand for the “I have no life” weekend program, so I must wait until July.

Student orientation is July 7 and classes begin the week after.

First on the docket:

  • Nutrition – online course
  • Sanitation – 2 consecutive Sundays – all day
  • Introduction to Professional Cookery
  • Stocks, Sauces and Soups

Perhaps they’re not the most exciting courses, but in a masochistic sense, I’m looking forward to getting back into the the work/study grind.

The on-site class schedule for 1st quarter, aside from the 2-consecutive-Sunday sanitation course (nice illiteration, hey?):

Fridays – 6 to 11 p.m.

Saturday – 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.

So you can see why I have nicknamed the program –  affectionately – the “I have no life” program. Starting in the 2nd quarter, I will also go to class on Thursday nights.

Really, this is part of the trade-off. If I seek a career in the food service industry, I have to adjust to a non-traditional work schedule. I’ve thought a lot about that, and it’s something I’m willing to do.  In a sense, I’m eager to do it so I can prove to myself I can.

I’m looking forward to blogging more regularly when classes begin.  It will be fun to share (or at least record for posterity’s sake in the even that no one reads this thing) my growing knowledge of the industry and craft of cooking.

And now, in honor of National Poetry month, a poem for literary foodies. This poem is in 18 parts, and I will post a few parts each day:

“Fruits and Vegetables” by Erica Jong

1

Goodbye, he waved, entering the apple.
That red siren,
whose white flesh turns brown
with prolonged exposure to air,
opened her perfect cheeks to receive him.
She took him in.
The garden revolved
in her glossy patinas of skin.
Goodbye.

2

O note the two round holes in onion.

3

Did I tell you about
my mother’s avocado?
She grew it from a pit.
Secretly, slowly in the dark,
it put out grub-white roots
which filled a jelly jar.
From this unlikely start,
an avocado tree with bark
& dark green leaves
shaded the green silk couch
which shaded me
throughout my shady adolescence
There, beneath that tree
my skirt gave birth to hands!
Oh memorable hands of boys
with blacked-out eyes
like culprits
in the National Enquirer.
My mother nursed that tree like all her children,
turned it around so often
towards the sun
that its trunk grew twisted
as an old riverbed,
& despite its gaudy leaves
it never bore
fruit.