Food Poetry: Organic Fruit, by Diane Lockward

Published by Wednesday, May 15, 2013 Permalink 0

Organic Fruit

I want to sing

a song worthy of

the avocado, renegade

fruit, strict individualist, pear

gone crazy. Praise to its skin

like an armadillo’s, the refusal

to adulate beauty. Schmoo-shaped

and always face forward, it is what it

is. Kudos to its courage, its inherent love

of democracy. Hosannas for its motley coat,

neither black, brown, nor green, but purple-hued,

like a bruise. Unlike the obstreperous coconut, the

avocado yields to the knife, surrenders its hide of leather,

blade sliding under the skin and stripping the fruit. Praise

to its nakedness posed before me, homely, yellow-green,

and slippery, bottom-heavy like a woman in a Renoir, her

flesh soft velvet. I cup the fruit in my palm, slice and hold,

slice and hold, down to the stone at the core, firm fist at the

center. Pale peridot crescents slip out, like slivers of  moon.

Exquisite moment of ripeness! a dash of salt, the first bite

squishes between tongue and palate, eases down my

throat, oozes vitamins and oil. Could anything be more

delicious, more digestible? Plaudits to its versatility,

yummy in Cobb salad, saucy in guacamole, boldly

stuffed with crabmeat. My avocado dangles from

a tree, lifts its puckered face to the sun, pulls

all that light inside. Praise it for being small,

misshapen, and durable. Praise it for

the largeness of its heart.

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Food Poetry: 张错: 茶的情诗 / Love Lyrics of Tea

Published by Tuesday, April 3, 2012 Permalink 0

by Dominic Cheung

Translated into English by Karl Zhang

张错: 茶的情诗 Love Lyrics of Tea


如果我是开水 If I were boiling water
你是茶叶 And you were tea leaves,
那么你的香郁 Then all your fragrance would depend
必须倚赖我的无味 Upon my lack of taste.


让你的干枯柔柔的 As your shriveling
在我里面展开,舒散;Loosened within me and unfolded;
让我的浸润 My moisture and lubrication
舒展你的容颜。Would smooth the wrinkles from your face.


我们必须热,甚至沸 We would need to be hot, even boiling
彼此才能相溶。To dissolve inside each other.


我们必须隐藏 We would need to hide
在水里相觑,相缠 Face to face under water, twisting and twining,
盏茶功夫 In a moment of tea
我俩才决定成一种颜色。Before we decided, which color to become.


无论你怎样浮沉 No matter how long you might float and swirl
把持不定 Unstable
你终将缓缓的 Eventually you would
(噢,轻轻的) (Oh, gently)
落下,攒聚  Sink down
在我最深处。To assemble in my depths.


那时候  In that moment
你最苦的一滴泪 Your bitterest teardrop
将是我最甘美的 Would become my sweetest
口茶。 Mouthful of tea.

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On the Chocolate Trail: The Elizabeth Taylor Special, the Chocolatini

Published by Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Permalink 1

by Christina Daub

Who invented the chocolatini?

With all we remember about chocolatini, her legendary eyes and films and husbands and tireless efforts on the behalf of AIDS victims, the Hollywood queen was also, by the way, an icon of the chocolate world.

In 1953, her face sold Whitman’s chocolates ads for Valentine’s that year. In 1955, she and Rock Hudson invented the Senator John Warner, a concoction of vodka, Kahlua and Hershey’s syrup after working long hours on the set of Giant in Marfa, TX. Taylor proclaimed it “the best drink I ever tasted.”

But my favorite Taylor contribution to the chocolate world was one you could order just five blocks from the White House. During her marriage to National Velvet, she frequented the show restaurant in Washington DC, Dominique’s. It may not have had the best food in town, but its patrons attracted attention like no one else and people went to see and be seen. Autographed photographs of Ted Kennedy and Tony Bennett, Robert Redford and others glammed the walls while exotic mounted animals, an alligator, a lion and several other large creatures loomed near diners craning their necks between bites.

I don’t remember what I ate for dinner at Dominique’s since already in those days, my sole focus was on dessert. And the Elizabeth Taylor Special was as extravagant as she was. I ordered it every time.

It looked heavenly, a large cloud of whipped cream, but inside this cumulus pouf hovering on the signature Dominique plate, were the real jewels: five chocolate truffles, brown diamonds every one.

Dominique’s no longer exists having been sold by its original owner in 1987, but that dessert will float on in my memory more than Cleopatra, poet or any other work Liz Taylor graced with her fierce talent and jaw-dropping beauty.


On The Chocolate Trail: Christina Daub is an American The Poet’s Cookbook who has spent her life traveling around the world in search of great chocolate. She is also the editor of the Food Poetry section. Published in The Poet’s Cookbook series, she has work in the first volume, which included poems and recipes from Tuscany (in English and Italian), and the second (in German and English), published by the Goethe Institute. She teaches creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.



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Our favorite food books of 2011

Published by Friday, December 23, 2011 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway


Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, by Maria Speck

My favorite cookbook of the year. Maria Speck knows how to incorporate ancient whole grains from around the world into dishes that remain rustic on the edges, but healthy, original and elegant at the same time. The technical explanations about ancient grains are excellent, as well as her explanations about general cooking techniques. The food stories she incorporates here and there about growing up in Greece and Germany add a touch of charm.

A must for any health-conscious real food lover who wants to eat interesting food combinations and dishes with a touch more sophistication that can pleasantly surprise guests, but not take them totally away from their references, because the dishes are for the most part influenced by Mediterranean cuisine.

For poetry-loving foodies:

The Poet’s Cookbook: Recipes from Germany, poems by 33 American poets with German translations

The Poet’s Cookbook: Recipes from Tuscany, poems by 28 Italian and American poets

I love the original concept of these books, pairing a food poem with a recipe. A poem by our Food Poetry Editor, Christina Daub, “Wine“, appears in the Tuscany version.

Farming: A Hand Book, by Wendell Berry

As a Kentuckian, Wendell Berry has forever been my mentor. He is, in my mind, the precursor of the Slow Food philosophy in the U.S., through the philosophy he has cultivated and spread for over 50 years now, well before Petrini and company started the Slow Food movement. Whether writing prose or poetry, he is always eloquent, and the same message of integrity, respect for others and for the land is the central message. This is one more inspiring book of poetry to add to our shelves of books to keep forever, that will comfort us in times of trouble, that we will pick up time and time again when we’re losing faith in humanity, devastated by the disrespect shown to the land, losing touch with our roots. Berry always says what he thinks in all his eloquence and with true gentillesse, but more than that, he lives the life he preaches, and that is consoling.

For food lovers, wine lovers, and culinary travelers:

Food Wine Rome, by David Downie and Alison Harris, published by The Little Bookroom, part of The Terroir Guides series

Food Wine Burgundy, by David Downie and Alison Harris, published by The Little Bookroom, part of The Terroir Guides series

Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light, by David Downie

David Downie writes wonderful articles for The Rambling Epicure and Alison does exquisite food photo exhibits for our Food Art section. I can never get enough of their work, because the writing is exquisite and full of literary and historical references, and the photos are truly art. Downie always shows you the insider’s view of whatever he writes about, and Alison has a great eye for catching the very essence of what they’re covering, whether it be truffle hunting or discovering little out-of-the way restaurants in isolated villages. You can never go wrong with their books.

For bread lovers:

Dictionnaire Universel du Pain, by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

Jean-Philippe de Tonnac also writes for The Rambling Epicure, and has recently become THE bread writer all bakers want to meet. This book should in my mind be translated into English immediately. It offers a wealth of information about bread from time immemorial, covering techniques and breads from around the world, as well as spirituality, sex, gluten intolerance, bakers as poets, bakers as prophets and much more. “Encyclopedia” would be a more appropriate term than “dictionary”.

Mindful eating:

The Self-Compassion Diet: Guided Practices to Lose Weight with Loving-Kindness by Jean Fain

Jean Fain has tried every diet out there, so she can speak with authority about the subject of weight loss. She is also affiliated with Harvard Medical School as a psychotherapist, so she has the credentials to talk about the subject. Her book takes a totally different approach to weight loss than any I’ve seen. She doesn’t count calories and restrict what you eat. Her approach is instead through the mind, to become mindful of what we eat, when we eat (when stressed or lonely, for example), why we eat (out of need to nourish ourselves or out of boredom or frustration); to appreciate what we eat, and above all to be conscious of our entire relationship with food.

The book teaches you how to take control of yourself and your relationship to food so that you can change the way you think about food in general, so that eating becomes a totally different experience. Jean does this through loving-kindness, self-hypnosis, meditation and numerous other weight-loss approaches, which you follow gradually, not all in one go. She also offers a CD including guided meditations to help patients after they have stopped therapy.

Her main thrust is self-love, that we must not be too hard on ourselves, or we’ll fall back in to our old and bad habits quickly. The beauty of the book and CD combination is that you can live half way around the planet and still follow her method.

For lovers of literature: food essays and prose:

Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures of Food, by Carlo Petrini and Ben Watson

This book consists of an anthology of articles by the world’s top food writers, making me remember the old days when we’d visit the family in the countryside and how I thought it odd that they grew all their vegetables themselves and knew how to can them; how they drank milk straight from the cow (one of my fondest childhood memories), and how we relished in those meals, how it built bonds between us. “Drawn from five years of the quarterly journal Slow (only recently available in America), this book includes more than 100 articles covering eclectic topics from “Falafel” to “Fat City.” From the market at Ulan Bator in Mongolia to Slow Food Down Under, this book offers an armchair tour of the exotic and bizarre. You’ll pass through Vietnam’s Snake Tavern, enjoy the Post-Industrial Pint of Beer, and learn why the lascivious villain in Indian cinema always eats Tandoori Chicken.”

For pastry makers and lovers:

Mich Turner’s  Masterclass: The Ultimate Guide to Cake Decorating Perfection, by Mich Turner, published by Jacqui Small LLP, London

Mitch Turner’s cake decorating book is worthy of a fine art book in its presentation, and of an encyclopedia in terms of the detailed explanations about cake decorating. Her pastry and cakes are truly works of art. A must for all pastry makers, whether professional or amateur.

Food art:

From Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography, by Hélène Dujardin

This book is special for many reasons. There are lots of people out there trying to learn food photography without a clue as to even the basic techniques required and no possibility of taking a food photography workshop. This is the book for them, because all the basics plus quite a lot more are explained in a clear, direct manner. It also verges on being an art book, because it is illustrated by Dujardin’s beautiful food photography.




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Chocolate News: It’s chocolate week, & here are some exciting chocolate adventures around the world

Published by Tuesday, October 11, 2011 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

This is one of the best and most comprehensive lists I’ve seen about high-quality chocolate adventures around the world. I want to go them all!

Click here to read the entire article.

The evidence continues to build a factual basis that dark chocolate is actually good for you. See the related articles:

  • Chocolate – the miracle drug?
  • Chocolate Week Heaven
  • High Chocolate Consumption Linked To Lower Stroke Risk In Females

And in Peru, they’re still finding new varieties of chocolate. Exciting future for chocoholics! Click here to read.


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Food Poetry: Ancestor, by Nan Fry

Published by Tuesday, May 10, 2011 Permalink 0

Deep inside me she remembers hunger.
She rejoices when I make stock—
the chicken already baked and eaten

returned to the pot—ribs ridged
like the roof of a cathedral.
I toss in potato peels, limp carrots,
old celery, herbs so dry they crumble.

Steam rises, more fragrant
than incense, and the long simmer
comforts her as no chant could.

Later I scoop out the bones
and vegetables, all their goodness
gone to broth. Golden,

fat shimmers on the surface,
the only gold she’ll ever know.
For now, it is enough.

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Food Poetry: Onion, by Nan Fry

Published by Monday, April 18, 2011 Permalink 0

The onion is round.  So is a basketball, a grapefruit, a globe, the moon.
How does the onion’s roundness differ from theirs? —Nancy Willard

The onion wears a papery sheath.
It is the moon gone to ground,
light enclosed in a brown paper bag,
not really round, but the shape
of the tears we weep when we take
a knife to its white skin.

“Onions,” says the Joy
of Cooking
, “are of easy culture.
They prefer moist, rich earth,
sun, and shallow planting.”
It does not say they are the moon’s
long-lost relatives who send up
green spears toward the sun.

The grapefruit, on the other hand,
is a little sun. We cut it in half
and pour on sun-colored honey.
The mixture of sweet and tart
waking our tongues, we rise
from the table feeling lighter.

“Onions are supposed to be the secret
of health,” says the Joy of Cooking.
“But how can they keep that secret?”
In a cool, dark place they sleep
in their papery shells. Giant pearls,
they will be married to mushrooms.
Fire is the priest at this wedding.

Onions, sliced into rings,
do not bounce, do not sail
through the air and into a hoop
looped round with netting as the crowd
cheers and the sun is captured
for another year.

Onions live more quietly
though they may sizzle
in their bath of oil.

The onion is not painted blue
where oceans pulse
or green where continents sprawl.
The globes of my childhood
are all wrong now—the names
of countries changed, borders
redrawn, but where the soil
is moist and rich, onions
still flourish, tiny illumined
globes in the spinning dark.

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Food Poetry: The History of Brussels Sprouts

Published by Wednesday, March 30, 2011 Permalink 0

The History of Brussels Sprouts

This vegetable evolved from primitive

non-heading Mediterranean kraut.

It wrapped its crinkly little leaves about

its winsome, blooming face, and left to live

a classic Bildungsroman. Adjusting mien

and flavor, traveling north and west, it came

upon the gates of Brussels, took the name

that welcomed it. Gentlemen and lean

courtesans took into their mouths its tight

green jackets, endlessly disrobing, sheets

of luminosity pressed close. And fleets

dispatched to newer worlds carried wide

and far its seed. Like any immigrant,

it put down roots before it could repent.

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On The Chocolate Trail: Elizabeth Taylor Chocolate Notes

Published by Monday, March 28, 2011 Permalink 0

We wanted to share the comments and feedback we received about Christina Daub’s On the Chocolate Trail: The Elizabeth Taylor Special.

Alternative Recipe for Liz Taylor Special

A friend in Bethesda just asked about recipe for the Liz Taylor Special. All you do is place your favorite truffles artfully on your plate–and if you want to buy them, instead of make them, I suggest you get the Budapest truffles at Kron in DC and then cover them completely with whipped cream.

You might try sweetening the whipped cream with a splash of Grand Marnier and a sprinkling of sugar. This is an irresistible combination with the dark sumptuous truffles.

Alternative Recipe for a Chocolatini

Rim glass in cocoa powder or if you prefer sweeter, add some icing sugar to the cocoa first.

In a martini shaker, shake together one shot Smirnoff vanilla vodka and a shot of Godiva chocolate liquer over ice. Stir in 2 shots of cream and cocoa powder to taste. Shake quickly and strain into martini glass.

Alternative Recipe for a Chocolatini using vodka and Bailey’s Irish Creme

You can also use plain vodka and add Bailey’s Irish Creme to it and use creme de cacao instead of Godiva.

Garnish with dark chocolate shavings for some added pizazz.

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Food Poetry: Linguini, by Diane Lockward

Published by Wednesday, March 9, 2011 Permalink 0


It was always linguini between us.
Linguini with white sauce, or
red sauce, sauce with basil snatched
from the garden, oregano rubbed between
our palms, a single bay leaf adrift amidst
plum tomatoes. Linguini with meatballs,
sausage, a side of brascioli. Like lovers
trying positions, we enjoyed it every way
we could—artichokes, mushrooms, little
neck clams, mussels, and calamari—linguini
twining and braiding us each to each.
Linguini knew of the kisses, the smooches,
the molti baci. It was never spaghetti
between us, not cappellini, nor farfalle,
vermicelli, pappardelle, fettucini, perciatelli,
or even tagliarini. Linguini we stabbed, pitched,
and twirled on forks, spun round and round
on silver spoons. Long, smooth, and always
al dente
. In dark trattorias, we broke crusty panera,
toasted each other—La dolce vita!—and sipped
Amarone, wrapped ourselves in linguini,
briskly boiled, lightly oiled, salted, and lavished
with sauce. Bellissimo, paradisio, belle gente!
Linguini witnessed our slurping, pulling, and
sucking, our unraveling and raveling, chins
glistening, napkins tucked like bibs in collars,
linguini stuck to lips, hips, and bellies, cheeks
flecked with formaggio—parmesan, romano,
and shaved pecorino—strands of linguini flung
around our necks like two fine silk scarves.

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