Archives for posts with tag: cuisine

cathay chinese 1982 copy
Chinese Restaurant (London 1988)
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

This is my favorite
Chinese restaurant in London,
my dad declares as we climb
a long dark flight of stairs
in a timeless building
where a hostess waits at the top.
I order cashew chicken—
the sauce is clear, fragrant
(there & yet not there).
The chicken is so white,
the cashews are fat & golden.
Rice awaits in a red bowl,
every grain tiny as a second.
As the lights go on
in Piccadilly Circus, my dad & I talk
in a circle of candlelight
by the window while the cashews
resemble crescent moons shining
on the china plate or little ears
listening avidly to our conversation
(which flows like warm tea)—
& the check doesn’t come
for hours & hours.

PHOTO: Cathay Chinese Restaurant, Glasshouse Street, Piccadilly Circus, London, England (1982).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My late dad inhabits many of my poems. This poem is about when I went to London on my own when I was in my early twenties. My father met me there; he was working in Germany at the time. We had a brief, splendid visit together. I wish I could remember the name of that Chinese restaurant; it was a mysterious oasis above Piccadilly Circus and had the best food ever (authentic, as they say). My dad and I talked of many things that night like we always did. He was endlessly fascinating with a gorgeous sense of humor. During our visit we also went to a Russian restaurant called Borscht N Tears, where we had caviar and encountered unruly Germans – but that is another good memory.

EDITOR’S NOTE: According to The Guardian, Britain’s first mainstream Chinese restaurant, Cathay, arrived in London’s Piccadilly Circus area during 1908, setting off the UK’s love of Chinese cuisine that has never waned.

Cimera

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Marcella Cimera is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Her poems have appeared in various diverse journals online and in print. She lives, writes, despairs, and tries to hope in America. A cedar Poetry Box called The Fox Poetry Box is mounted on a post in her front yard.

churros vadim zakirov
My mother, eating churros
by Yvette Viets Flaten

that my father has just brought back
from Alcalá’s town center. Still hot,
from the rolling vat of olive oil.
My father, in a green sweater.
It is autumn, our tiny apartment
chilling, the Spanish sun dulling.

Their smile. I capture it on film.
Their cups of coffee on the kitchen
table. They are passing into middle
age. I am in high school.

My mother, lifting a churro toward
her mouth, smiling at my camera,
so happy this morning, my father
standing just behind, his hand
touching her shoulder.
I catch that moment.
Have it still.

PHOTO: Traditional Spanish churros by Vadim Zakirov.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am always fascinated at how memory works. Things that I think I should, or want to, remember often fade quickly. But random moments, conversations, the odd occurrence, or tiny detail are pressed into my memory as though carved in stone. So it is with this memory of my parents. It was a spontaneous moment: My father went out for churros—not our usual breakfast routine. I had my camera in the kitchen—not usual, either. On impulse, I clicked the shutter—and now, more that fifty years on, I recall every nuance of that happy Saturday morning.

Flaten

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yvette Viets Flaten was born in Colorado and raised in an Air Force family.  She has lived in Nevada, North Dakota, and Washington state, as well as abroad in England, France, and Spain. Those experiences gave her the chance to study languages, history, and culture, and imparted a love of travel. She currently lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

chagall 1
Late Night Korean
by Briana Naseer

After the wedding, the best man
(who is also my best man) returns
with me to our hotel room,

takes off his tux,
texts the rest of the groomsmen
to extend the night.

I rub my feet where my heels
have given me blisters,
tell him to go ahead
because all I want
is a shower and some sleep.

At one in the morning,
I’m tucked into the king bed,
alone and pleasantly asleep,
when he wakes me,

drunk and insistent
that I try this Korean egg roll
he found while out;

I take a bite and relish
the cabbage and carrots,
the fried dough,
the congealed grease
that only makes it better,

and how his desire to share
his joy over it
led him back to me.

PAINTING: The Offering by Marc Chagall (1965).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem about the first wedding that my now husband and I attended as a couple, where he was the best man.  I chose to stay in while the rest of the wedding party went out after the wedding, and he came back just so enthralled to share this egg roll with me that I had to memorialize this memory into a poem.

Naseer1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Briana Naseer is a Pakistani-American school psychologist and poet living in Chicago, Illinois. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, and a master’s degree in education and an education specialist degree from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her debut poetry collection is entitled Rind.

nature-2574126_1920
My Son Slows Me
by Dick Westheimer

His backpack was bigger than ours,
bulged with more than tent staves,
his little sister’s sleeping pad
and his mother’s foul weather gear.

At noon on our first day out, we find
a shade cave, just five miles
into the high desert canyon,
where we, black-fly bitten and

painted red by the midday
blaze, stopped for rest.
As I reached into a side pocket
for a mushed up pb&J, Gabe

called me over. Get out the stove
he asked, turned to his brother,
said, Pull out the cook set. Do we
have time, I asked, for this?

He replied, gesturing
to the gathering stream below,
the red rock canyon walls,
the generous overhang we found

ourselves under, All we have
is time, he said. Brother
and brother and father,
set to work while the others

drifted in heat dreams.
I chopped greens and sweet chilies
while the boys assembled the stove
ignited the flame, sautéed sweet

onions in oil awaiting my sous chef
prep. We seven ate like queens
of the caverns, cleaned up in the chorus
of the rushing waters, slept,

heads rested on packs, til the sun
lowered a few degrees to the west.
Awakened, I heard the older boy
say: Greens today. Carrots tomorrow.

Beans can wait. And I knew
what he carried was so much more
than the weight he’d offered
to take off our less robust backs.

Photo by StockSnap from Pixabay. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My eldest son Gabe is an adventurer and an extraordinary cook.  But he is not goal oriented like I am. Both adventuring and cooking for him are part of a larger appreciation for “the moment.” On a backpacking trip together, I learned the joy of “being there” rather than “getting there” from his simple example.

Westheimer.2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dick Westheimer has—with his wife and writing companion Debbie—lived on their plot of land in rural southwest Ohio for over 40 years. His most recent poems have appeared or are upcoming in Rattle, Paterson Review, Chautauqua Review, Whale Road Review, Minyan, Gyroscope Review, Northern Appalachia Review, and Cutthroat. More can be found at dickwestheimer.com.

weston eggplant
Making Eggplant Croquettes with the NYT Food Page
by Robbi Nester

To make this dish, you have to plan ahead.
One day, two eggplants occupied the shelf
in my refrigerator. I baked them, purple
as a nimbus cloud about to split. They fell in
on themselves, all steam and soft white flesh.
Then I left them overnight to cool, bitter
black juice seeping into the bowl. The next
day, I slipped off their blackened jackets,
chopped the yielding shreds, grated in
four cloves of garlic with a microplane,
mixed in some green-gold olive oil
and salt. I wasn’t finished yet!

After another day of waiting, I spread
a sheet of parchment paper in a pan,
poured in the eggplant mixture, wedged
it in the freezer. Next afternoon, I cut it
into greyish squares smelling of sweet
garlic. Finally, it was time to cook!
I arranged three bowls of beaten egg,
flour, and seasoned panko, dredged
the squares of frozen eggplant,
heated the cast iron pan till waves
of heat shimmered like a spirit
over the oil, lowered the croquettes
into their sizzling bath. They hissed
and spit like cornered cats, and crisped
immediately, the insides creamy
on my tongue. Sometimes, cooking
is like a séance, calling forth from plain
ingredients what’s been there all along.

PHOTO: Eggplant by Edward Weston, silver gelatin print (1929).

egplant croquettes

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always enjoyed reading and writing about food and cooking as well as watching professional chefs cook and talk about food. During the pandemic, I stopped going to restaurants. The highlight of my week has become going to the grocery store, mostly very early in the morning, when the markets are virtually empty, and I feel as though I am walking through my own personal pantry. ¶ Before, I was a careless cook. Though I have always loved culinary variety and innovation and sought to learn something from making new dishes, the pandemic has slowed everything down considerably, allowed me to spend more time on each step of the preparation. Now I have time to prepare dishes that I would never consider making in the before-world, like the eggplant croquettes I have written about in this poem, which I first discovered in the pages of the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

PHOTO: Smoky Eggplant Croquettes (New York Times, All Rights Reserved).

NOTE: The New York Times recipe site is subscription only. A list of ingredients for Smoky Eggplant Croquettes is available at copymethat.com. But the directions are only available at the New York Times subscription site, or in the above poem.

nester2-copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry, a chapbook, and three collections of poems, the most recent is Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited three anthologies, the most recent is The Plague Papers, published as a special issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal, available to read at Poemeleon.me. Find more of her work at robbinester.net.

Elwell licensed
Gravy
by Barbara Crooker

To make good gravy, you must be patient,
let the juice settle to the bottom, let the fat
float to the top in all its golden light. Skim
it with a thin spoon, take its measure. Equal
it with flour, sprinkle with salt, speckle
with pepper. Stir constantly in the roasting pan,
making figure eights with a wooden spoon.
Scrape off strips of skin, bits of meat; incorporate
them in the mixture, like a difficult uncle
or the lonely neighbor invited out of duty.
Keep stirring. Hand the wooden baton
to one of your daughters; it’s time for her
to start learning this music, the bubble and
seethe as it plays the score. One minute
at the boil, then almost like magic, it’s gravy,
a rich velvet brown. Thin it with broth,
stir in chopped giblets, then pour into
its little boat, waiting with mouth open.
Take up your forks, slide potatoes, stuffing,
gravy, into your mouth, hum under your breath.
Oh, the holy family of gravy, all those
little odd bits and pieces, the parts that could
be discarded, but aren’t; instead, transformed
into a warm brown blanket that makes
delicious every thing it covers.

SOURCE: Line Dance (Word Poetry, 2008).

PHOTO: Rich steaming gravy with ladle by Christopher and Amanda Elwell, used by permission.

Crooker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Crooker is a poetry editor for Italian Americana and author of nine books; the latest is Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series. Her awards include the Best Book of Poetry 2018 from Poetry by the Sea, the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships. Her work appears in a variety of anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Visit her at barbaracrooker.com and on Facebook and Twitter. 

cheese spread

How to Make the Perfect Southern Sandwich
by Joan Leotta

At our weekly lunches,
my Georgia-born
neighbor, Faye, introduced
little Pennsylvania me
to her “perfect sandwich,”
bread spread with a
mix of cheddar, roasted red peppers
(pimento) and Southern charm.
I begged for the secret to the
orange-red spread I had never
tried before eating it with Faye,
what she told me was called
“pimento cheese.”
At last, one afternoon, she invited
me into her kitchen
to demonstrate how,
when blended with Duke’s mayo,
canned pimento punctuates
shredded white cheddar
with a vinegary spike.
“Duke’s blends it all,”
Faye whispered. “Duke’s is
the secret, the kiss of the South.”
We mashed the ingredients
together with a fork.
Then she smothered white bread
slices with a knife-full of gold,
deftly trimmed off crusts
and with one swift stroke,
divided the sandwich
into triangles, one each.
“So, Northern Girl, what do you
think?” she asked. I replied,
“I think I’m buying a jar of Duke’s.
These sandwiches are perfection.”

PHOTO: Still from youtube video How It’s Done: South Carolina Pimento Cheese by Discover South Carolina, All Rights Reserved. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I first tasted Pimento Cheese at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, at the site’s snack bar with my friend Faye, and then at the Indigo Inn in Charleston, South Carolina. Like any recipe that’s made in many families, there are numerous versions across the South. Some folks add cream cheese to make the mixture more spreadable. (If using cream cheese in the recipe below, use 3-4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese). Some families add cayenne pepper and/or Worcestershire sauce. I like it plain. I use white sharp cheddar because I like the color to come from the pimento only. You can also use sharp yellow cheddar.

cheese pamela mcadams licensed

Joan’s Pimento Cheese (with a nod to the Indigo Inn in Charleston, South Carolina)
Ingredients
1 cup freshly grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (do not buy pre-grated).
2 ounces pimento peppers, well drained and chopped
3 tablespoons to ½ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
Dash of cayenne pepper
Method
Stir and stir until the ingredients are well blended. Refrigerate. Lasts one week.

Photo by Pamela McAdams, used by permission. 

JOAN L

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta, a Pittsburgh girl now living in North Carolina, plays with words on page, stage, and in the kitchen where she balances Southern Italian cooking with American Southern. Her poems, essays, and stories have appeared in Silver Birch Press, Potato Soup Journal, Sasse, Highland Park Poetry, Verse Virtual and Visual Verse and others. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon is available from Finishing Line Press.

benjamas suwanmanee licensed
The Fallback Plan
by Jay Passer

my niece moved to Santa Cruz
to attend the University there.

for her birthday I gave her a nice
chef’s knife, cutting board, and
a clean bar towel.

she was delighted, but perplexed
by the bar towel.

what’s this for?

2 functions, I said. wet it a little
as an anchor for the cutting board,
so it doesn’t slip around while
you’re using the knife.

she pursed her lips and nodded.
and the other?

to practice flipping pizza pie,
of course.
just pretend the towel is the dough.

I showed her how.
she was tickled, but flummoxed.

why would I ever need to know
how to do that?

her major is astrophysics.

you never know, I said,
keeping that Cheshire smile to myself.

Photo by Benjamas Suwanmanee, used by permission.

towel toss

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was a pizza cook for several years, and in the beginning cheated a bit by using a damp bar towel to simulate a pizza dough in order to practice twirling. If the dough is proofed properly, it’s not absolutely necessary to twirl (although the centrifugal force does quicken the expansion process), but if you’re working in an exhibition kitchen it’s definitely worth it because the kids love it.

PHOTO: Still from youtube video Pizza Toss 101 with Carl Penrow. Watch the video here.

JayPasser

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jay Passer’s poetry and prose have appeared online and in print, in anthologies, chapbooks, and a few full length volumes, since 1988. He lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth.