Archives for posts with tag: dining

world plate 1
Not So Difficult Conversations
by Anne Namatsi Lutomia

Today we ate Indian food for dinner
At an Indian restaurant in an American midwestern town
Once food of the Indian gods and kings
Recipes passed on with secrets only known to the select few
Full grains of rice and cottage cheese and spinach
Now a meal for a customer who is king

Before we left the chef came to greet
At first hurriedly but not for long
He spoke of his times in Germany after the Berlin Wall came down
My friend spoke of growing up in Berlin when the Wall was up
They both agreed to return to Berlin someday
He spoke of the seven seasons found in winter
Of the high temperatures and rainy monsoons
We all were remembered the news about Dehli’s air quality improvement      during COVID-19 shutdown
Of how the skies of once polluted cities turned azure blue, and the air      fresh
He spoke of the high temperatures and increased rainfall in India
I spoke of the change in seasons and increased floods and drought in      Kenya
We all remarked on the tree-planting efforts by Wangari Maathai
My friend shared about the midwestern snowstorms and changing      winters
As Midwesterners we all agreed that the winters were not the same
And agreed that climate change is real and requires quick action

T’was time to say goodbye so we happily left
Promised ourselves to return to our new friend’s restaurant soon
In our stories we healed ourselves
In our action we must heal mother earth
The next generation must tell better stories than we do
Stories of a healed world

IMAGE: Porcelain Dinner Plate with Flower Petal World Map by Beisiss. Available on

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by the call for submissions and a conversation with an Indian restauranteur in a small midwestern town. I wanted to demonstrate how climate change conversations can be a basis for storytelling followed by action.

Lutomia jpg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Namatsi Lutomia is a budding poet and a member of Champaign-Urbana poetry group. She enjoys reading and writing poems, and has published poems with Silver Birch Press, BUWA, and awaazmagazine. She also likes going for long walks and now lives in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.


Hot Fudge Sauce
by Susan W. Goldstein

One of my least favorite, between college semester jobs, was in an ice cream shop . . . excuse me: Shoppe. The owner was a dirty old man who would pinch my butt whenever I was leaning in to scoop from the drums of hard-as-rock ice cream. I was too shocked to say anything, but I am certain that he lost money that summer, as I ate most of the profits when he wasn’t looking. (I mean, have you tried rum raisin with hot fudge sauce?)

One incident evolved into a long-standing family joke. A customer was trying to be helpful, as she pointed out that I had a big drip of hot fudge sauce on my collar bone. I looked down and didn’t see anything, so she pointed. And I began to laugh! It was a beauty mark that would forever be called my “hot fudge sauce.”

I did not return to this store the following summer. Instead, I sought employment at the Weed Pizza Parlor, its unofficial name. At night, after closing, the manager would make pizza that was covered, not in oregano, but in non-medicinal marijuana. I was still a naïf, and would run home to my parents and report what those wild and wicked kids were doing. My folks just advised me to keep working during the day, because summer was almost over and I guess that my mom didn’t want my whiney little self hanging around.

IMAGE: “Hot Fudge Sundae” by Sandy Tracey. Prints available at

 NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t know why I took these crummy minimum wage jobs, instead of applying for internships or something useful. Perhaps I knew back then that I would one day need to draw from each of these experiences to fuel my writing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan W. Goldstein is Livin’ la Vida Loca in Delray Beach, Florida — if you define such as a sensible bedtime and early rising to begin typing away on her little laptop. She has been proudly published in Mothers Always Write, Silver Birch Press, Mamalode, Medium, and JustBe Parenting, Lunch Box (Issue 11: Summer/Fall 2017 ), and is a winner of Hyland’s “A Mother Knows” campaign. Coming up later this month:  Sammiches & Psych Meds.  Follow her blog, at

cassia beck
The Job I Hated, But Needed
by Amanda Eifert

My first job was a leap, caused a limp,
Applied at the DQ, the manager was likable.
Trainees had three-hour shifts,
And no one explained how the take-out and eat-in system worked;
The manager yelled at me on my second shift.
I didn’t understand if he needed workers,
Why I had one shift each week of only three hours;
Never long or often enough to catch on.
I practiced endless ice cream cones and Sundaes.
I made delicious blizzards, brownie desserts, and treats.
When the milk shake machine exploded on me,
I held my breath and cleaned up the mess,
I was screamed at and no other worker defended me.
I felt isolated and tried to be friendly,
Then, I was told I needed to get along with the staff better.
I received stilted conversations, older girls who were mean to me.
Somehow I understood why:
They were stuck at the DQ in their twenties,
I was just fifteen with life before me.
Most shifts I spent washing dishes,
With the only “angel” in the kitchen;
A woman who decorated cakes,
Told me it wasn’t right I was only working three-hour shifts.
She said I was too pretty to be working there;
So when September came I quit.
Three months and barely $400.00.
I was thankful for the blessing of an odd tip,
After the manager yelled at me in front of a crowd,
Cute boys who slid an extra toonie my way with a smile.

IMAGE: “Ice Cream” by Cassia Black. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I hated working at the DQ in the summer of grade 10, but it was the only job I could get at the time. It was as you can read above, a humiliating experience. A great deal of it had to do with never being given enough shifts so that I could learn my job properly beyond making ice cream treats. I was barely given one three-hour shift a week and often sent home and not paid for the hours I did not work. This example of an awful manager affected my outlook on work profoundly. It taught me how to never humiliate or embarrass people who work under you or who you are training. In later jobs, I learned to be gentle with people when trying to help them correct mistakes or errors. I hated that job at DQ so much I refused to eat or buy anything at that location until the DQ was under new management.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Eifert  is a writer, freelancer, and blogger in Alberta, Canada. She has poetry and short fiction published online for,, and on on Instagram. She has an English BA and is working towards an MFA program in Creative Writing. You can visit her blog at and @mandibelle16 on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr.


Blue Hair and Game Hens
by Karen Sawyer

I was 17 and working as a banquet waitress at a formal event of mostly elderly people. The first course went smoothly, but no one warned me about the slippery main course, Cornish game hens and sautéed vegetables. As I leaned over to serve the plate in my right hand, the hen on the plate in my left hand slipped right off the plate and down the back of a lady whose hair and gown were both a pale shade of blue. We were both shocked and horrified. Not knowing what to do next, I ripped the napkin off her lap and started wiping the greasy mess off her back, then I grabbed the Cornish game hen and ran for the kitchen. My supervisor rushed out and somehow handled the whole situation with grace and charm.

When it was time to serve dessert, my hands had almost stopped shaking and I no longer felt nauseated, so my supervisor sent me back to the scene of the crime. I should have reconsidered when I saw the tall, ice cream-filled parfait glasses sitting on tiny saucers.

Sheepishly, I approached the table of my earlier humiliation. As I set down one saucer, I looked to see an empty saucer in my other hand. I went numb when I realized that the parfait glass was now resting upside down in a woman’s open purse on the floor. She was sitting across the table from my first victim who yelled, “Why is she still here?” I melted into the woodwork and, well, frankly, I don’t remember what happened next but I did get to keep my job.

My boss told me I would look back and laugh. She was right.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, at age 17. I don’t have a picture of me at this job but this is the age I was when the incident happened.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What can you say about an incident like this one? As a 17-year-old girl, I thought my life was over.  My parents happened to be dining in the restaurant next door and stopped in after the banquet to say hi. When I saw my dad walk in the door, I completely fell apart.  He didn’t say a word, he just hugged me.  I’m sure he was chuckling under his breath as I sobbed my way through the whole story, but being a good dad, he didn’t say anything except that everything would be okay. I can now see the humor in it and it has made for some good laughs when I’ve shared it with others. It was a character-building night that I will never forget.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Sawyer’s work has appeared in Precious, Precocious Moments, Wounded Women of the Bible, The Secret Place Devotional, guest posts in Mother Inferior blog and Unsent Letters blog, Girlfriend 2 Girlfriend magazine, and MONTROSE ANYTIME magazine. She has contributed numerous articles to ehow, and Demand Media’s other web-based sites. She taught elementary school for seven years before her children were born. Karen lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband of 29 years. They are the parents of two adult children.

Hostess Without the Mostest
by Shelly Blankman

I should have known the job was not meant for me.
A restaurant hostess, I was short, dumpy, clumsy,

plain, that slippery stage at age sixteen, when a girl
tries to act older than she feels and only the mirror

reflects the truth behind the makeup; the head hostess,
an Aphrodite, long blond hair, mine kinky, unruly,

more like Medusa’s minus the snakes, that would draw
stares cold as stone. She was not much older than I,

smooth curves, porcelain skin, her voice lovely, lilting,
mine crackled by nerves, welcoming customers ogling her.

Hungry people can be so mean. Aphrodite’s job, to tell me
where to seat the starved; my job, to lead them in their suits,

pearls, and clicking heels through a labyrinth of tables,
white-knuckling menus in my hands while trying to complete

this Herculean task with all the strength of a wingless bird
before Aphrodite rescued me, showing that, yes, beauty and

brains can come in one package of perfection. Finally, success.
A table of eight for a party of four. Why hadn’t I remembered that?

And an inviting pitcher of beer for a party who had no doubt worked up
a thirst. In my triumphant moment, I also forgot — Never separate tables

with a pitcher of beer in the middle. The shatter of glass echoed as if from
from a mountaintop into an endless valley below. An odd fusion of Pabst

and perfume filled the aired and the cacophony of cursing and cries from
customers who had by then lost their appetite gave me the best tip ever.

Never work in a restaurant again.


IMAGE: “Beer and Cards” by Juan Gris (1913).

Shelly Blankman

Shelly Blankman
and her husband are empty-nesters who live in Columbia, Maryland, with their four cat rescues and a little dog named Mia. They have two sons — Richard, 32, of New York, and Joshua, 31, of San Antonio. Her first love has always been poetry, although her career has generally followed the path of public relations/journalism. Shelly’s poetry has been published by Whispers, Silver Birch Press, Verse-Virtual, Peacock Journal, Praxis Magazine Online, Ekphrastic: writing and art on art and writing, and Visual Verse.


The Dog Shack
by Wendi White

I call about the job and Louie asks me to come by but wear my shorts, my short shorts. So I shimmy into blinding white hot pants with rhinestone studs and ride my ten-speed to The Dog Shack to become a carhop. Easy. Louie wants to know my age and weight, and while looking at my application, asks me to turn around so he can glance up and appraise my ass. It’s no lie. I get the job by the seat of my pants.

All summer I schlep chilidogs and fries across hot asphalt to station wagons packed with screaming kids and swim floats bound for the lake. I hang plastic trays off car windows and pass time between orders snatching napkins from bushes at the lot’s edge. That’s where this guy parks every night at the end of my shift, after my friends peel out to drink beer in the woods. That’s where he watches my job-winning backside as I walk to the window with his order.

One night, as I’m asking if he wants chopped onions or cheese on his foot long, he whispers, “I want you to see what I have here.” I’m seventeen and stupid and so I follow his instructions. In the dashboard light I see his naked butt, hear it squeaking back and forth on the vinyl seat, and just make out his disgusting dick in his hand. I run screaming into the shop for Louie, who keeps a bat behind the counter, and he lunges out the door waving it like a flag. “Come here you pervert; I’ll murder you,” he growls. I never see the guy again, but I quit anyway because as nasty as the flashing was, you know what was worse? Both the pervert and I knew Louie wasn’t lying.

PHOTO: The Dog Shack (Hudson Falls, New York).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t write much confessional poetry, but every blue moon or so, a memory pounces and demands I encase it within the amber of a poem. I oblige the memories that seem to transcend my own history and speak to our shared condition. This one snuck up on me and clubbed me over the head.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wendi White is a poet and provocateur currently musing among the herons and egrets of Coastal Virginia’s tidewater region. She recently earned her MFA from Old Dominion University and her day job has her mentoring students at ODU’s Women’s Center. At home she keeps one husband, two sons, a garden where tomatoes abound every other year, and too many books to count.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Here I am in all my mid-life glory. Seventeen seems so very long ago.


You’ll Grow Out of It
by Cath Bore

You’ll grow out of it. I won’t. It’s just a fad (sighs). It’s not. But you’re going to university soon. Yes, I am. But what will you eat? Food. Don’t be sarcastic. Sorry. You can’t live on salad. I’m not aiming to. But what about your, er, cycle (mouthed silently, finger circling the air in front of my belly). You’re not making any sense now, Mother. Are you doing this because of a boy? No. What’s his name? He hasn’t got one. You’ll get…what’s it called? Anaemic, that’s it. Tired, at any rate. I’m tired already, of your questions (muttered under breath). I made you a cheese toastie. Now you’re talking. I put ham in it too, like the French. *picks out ham* Well, make sure you eat lots of vegetables, if you’re not having any ham. OK. You look pale. Pale and interesting is the phrase you’re looking for. Here’s an omelette. With ham? No, mushrooms. They’re vegetarian, aren’t they? Result! You’ve lost weight. I haven’t. You’ve put weight on. Nope. Bet you’re cold. I’m fine.

I did you a bacon sandwich.


IMAGE: “Fruta de la Vida” by Frida Kahlo (1953).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I stopped eating meat at age 17, my family believed I was turning into some sort of anarchist. Their approach to tackling the problem, as they saw it, was frustrating and annoying at the time, but now I can see the funny side.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cath Bore is a writer based in Liverpool UK. Her crime novel The Bad Friend is through to the second stage of the WriteNow novel writing competition in UK, run by Penguin Random House. Cath’s website is cathbore.wordpress.comVisit her on Twitter @cathbore.Twitter: @cathbore

Doggie Diner, Geary and Arguello, 1969
by Vince Gotera

Out of San Francisco night, the cool fog’s
gray fingers caressing hills and houses,
emerged, in chef’s hat and bowtie, the Dog,
ten-foot-tall dachshund’s head in fiberglass.

Tina, my first real high school girlfriend,
and I entered through the shiny glass doors,
holding hands, both in hippie leathers, suede
vests and floppy hats, bellbottom cords.

It smelled like hog heaven, grease-laden air,
scents of amber-gold fries and sizzling thick
burgers, the sharp tang of cole slaw vinegar.
We ordered dogs slathered in chili with pickles

and mustard. The world was copacetic. Above
the diner, the Dog slowly turned, glowing like love.

PHOTO: Doggie Diner, San Francisco (1960s).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Doggie Diner is the iconic San Francisco restaurant chain, open from 1948 to 1986. Since it’s now gone, the Doggie Diner is a pleasant, nostalgic memory for anyone who grew up in The City during those years. Each diner had a sign rotating above the building, a huge grinning dog’s head in a bow tie and chef’s hat. In the documentary Doggie Diner History, someone who lived near a Doggie Diner as a child recalls how the dog head “helped me navigate my way home, like a big doggie-shaped lighthouse.” A 1985 photo by Roy Kaltschmidt titled “Doggie Diner — San Francisco Zoo,” captures this warm sentiment.¶ In the poem, I try to convey this sunny aura along with the optimistic tenor of the ’60s, the feeling among the young that everything and anything was possible. Remember that San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district was the epicenter of the Hippie movement. Although that positive ambience pervades the poem, I allude to the Vietnam war, even though it’s not really present to the teenaged couple: I use the phrase “the world,” which was what American soldiers in Vietnam called America. There was “the ’Nam” and there was “the world,” a romanticized paradise. So, although the speaker and his girlfriend feel all is “copacetic,” it’s really not, and they will soon, very soon, grow up into a world of harsh realities. But for now, in the “now” of the poem, life is wonderful. Happiness is a spicy chili dog, and the Doggie Diner is a kind of heaven.

AUTHOR PHOTO CAPTION: My senior photo in the high school yearbook.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vince Gotera is Editor Emeritus at the North American Review and professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches creative writing and American literature. His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, and the forthcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appear in The American Journal of Poetry, Eunoia Review, Star*Line, Altered Reality Magazine, Spirit’s Tincture, Crow Hollow 19, and the anthologies A Prince Tribute, Delirious: A Poetic Celebration of Prince, and Lupine Lunes, as well as the textbook Composing Poetry. Vince blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.

by Shel Silverstein 

These eggs
Are eggscellent.
I’m not eggsaggerating.
You can tell by my eggspression
They’re eggceptional —
Eggstra fluffy,
Eggstremely tasty,
Cooked eggsactly right
By an eggspert
With lots of eggsperience.
Now I’ll eggsamine the bill….
Ooh — much more eggspensive
Than I eggspected.
I gotta get out of here.
Where’s the eggxit?

SOURCE: “Eggs Rated” appears in Shel Silverstein’s collection Falling Up (HarperCollins, 1996), available at

by Alex Kre

Cranberry sauce, 

Oh Cranberry Sauce, 

Wherefore doest thou jiggle so? 

Holding your shape

Like the great

Tin Cylinder

From which you sprung…

If I were to poke you, 

Oh Cranberry Sauce, 

Would your jiggle

Yield to my finger? 

And if I were

To launch you

With a giant slingshot —
You know…those big ones

That need 3 people

To use them 
Would you bounce

Back to me? 

Would you jiggle

Your way home? 

Or would you

Explode into

A hundred million

Little Cranberry Sauces, 

All jiggling together

In perfect harmony?