Archives for posts with tag: food

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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.

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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.

cornbread and butter
Communion
When I Was on Chemo
by Andrea Jones Walker

She called my name
as she let herself in the back door.
Sluggish, I sat up in bed
pulled a knit cap onto my cold head
went into the kitchen.
How are you feeling, she asked.
From her bag, she unpacked
three little iron skillets
turned on my oven
chattered as I watched from
my seat at the table.
Tired?
She poured oil in the skillets
set them in the oven to heat
mixed cornmeal, flour, milk, eggs.
The oil sizzled when
she poured in the batter.
We sipped coffee
while the bread baked
filling the kitchen with warmth, aroma
she set out small plates and the butter dish
took the bread out when it was done.
slathered on thick pats of butter
we watched melt into the hot bread.
So long ago, that communion,
I wonder if it really happened.

Photo by Mypointofview. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Although this event happened in 2005, the sanctity of those moments has remained with me over the years. I penned the first draft during the pandemic. It took about six months of sitting with it, mulling over it, and revising to reach a point as near to satisfaction as it may ever get.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrea Jones Walker is a retired English teacher and longtime member of Emerald Coast Writers who thrills to the occasional adventure of parasailing and polar bear plunging. Her work has been published in the Emerald Coast Review, Pensacola News Journal, Pen Women Magazine, Of Poets and Poetry, and Oddball Magazine. She co-edits Panoply, which can be found at panoplyzine.com. A member of the National League of American Pen Women, she was appointed poet laureate for the Pensacola Branch in 2022, an honor that took her by surprise. Her books are available on Amazon.

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After Surviving
by Salli Berg Seeley

the death of his Spleen, the septic corrosion
of his Gallbladder, and the 2nd Heart attack
of his life, my dad eats
an orange over a flimsy, white
paper plate, under
greenwhite fluorescent light.

His dark eyes spark again and
he smiles and grunts, grateful,
greedy, and breathless,
he has no patience for parts, he bites
into the heart of the fruit, juice
and pulp catch on the stillblack
whiskers of his unshaven cheeks
and chin. He can’t
get it in fast enough,
the air, the fruit, the air, bright
with the perfume oil of the rind.
“Good,” he grunts, “it’s good.”

And there he is, again.
Alive. Again. Alive.

PAINTING: Sunrise by George Stefanescu (1966).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem details a moment of joy when I watched my father devour an orange as he emerged from life-threatening illness. It is a bittersweet good memory.

Berg Seeley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Salli Berg Seeley writes poetry and creative nonfiction and participates in live storytelling events in Chicago, Illinois, where teaches Writing and Literature courses at DePaul University. She believes that poetry saves lives. It has saved hers many times.

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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.

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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.

menudo by james
menudo
by Richard Vargas

i remember the morning
car ride to the Compton
neighborhood market
just the two of us
my dad would walk in
carrying the empty pot and lid
set it on the counter and ask
for it to be filled with our
sunday morning breakfast
while he picked up a package
of warm corn tortillas
i checked out the colorful
piñatas and sweet-smelling
pan dulce still warm from the oven

he would notice and buy a few
conchas and fruit-filled empanadas
watch the smile light up my face
the drive home was slow and gentle
making sure we didn’t spill
any of our orange-red bounty

i never cared for the oregano
but a squeeze of lemon
a spoonful of chopped onion
and a warm tortilla rolled up
in my small fist

planted the seed
for this poem to bloom

PHOTO: Menudo Rojo by James.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Menudo is one of those signature dishes that becomes a cultural icon for the place and people where it originates. The flavorful mix of tripe and hominy isn’t for everyone—you might say it is an acquired taste. And, yes, I know from experience that it is one of those “best cure for a hangover” remedies that gets passed on from generation to generation. Saturdays were for washing my dad’s lowered Chevy and cruising downtown, but Sunday morning’s ritual was picking up a pot of menudo and enjoying its aromas and steamy goodness around the kitchen table. These days I won’t hesitate to heat up a can of Juanita’s Spicy Menudo (only occasionally, since the salt content is enough to give an elephant a stroke), chop up some onion and cilantro, slice up a fresh lime, warm up some corn tortillas, grab a cold Modelo Negra, and watch the Sunday morning NFL pregame shows. Then, I raise my beer and toast my dad, wherever his spirit may be.

PHOTO: The author at age six months with his father.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Vargas was born in Compton, California. He earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin. He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980, publishing early works by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Alberto Rios, Nila Northsun, and many more. His first book, McLife, was featured twice, during Feb 2006, on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. A second book, American Jesus, was published by Tia Chucha Press, 2007. His third book, Guernica, revisited, was published in April 2014 by Press 53, and was featured once more on the Writer’s Almanac. Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010, where he workshopped his poetry with Joy Harjo. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award, was on the faculty of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference, and facilitated a workshop at the 2015 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. Vargas also edited/published The Más Tequila Review from 2009-2015, featuring poets from across the country. His poetry continues to appear in poetry journals and anthologies, while his fourth book, How A Civilization Begins, MouthFeel Press, will be released on Sept 8, 2022. Currently, he resides in Wisconsin, near the lake where Otis Redding’s plane crashed. Visit him at richardvargaspoet.com.

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Amends
by Jessica Gigot

It is hard to hold a homegrown
            head of broccoli in your hand
and not feel proud.
Seed to start,

seedling to robust stalk and floret,
I cradle this broccoli like my first born.

The infant I protected from damping-off,
            aphids, club root, and pesky flea beetles
                          dotting up all the leaves.

The green gleams and sparkles.
In that one hour on that one day

I made amends with the earth.

Other times, I buy the shipped-in stuff,
            California’s wellspring
Touched by a thousand hands
            and automated sanitation.

Sweat makes this one something special—
            the give and take of it all,
                          my muddied pride.

PHOTO: Broccoli garden. Photo by Marina Helena Muller on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after working in the garden last summer, feeling proud of what I had grown and also overwhelmed by how vast and harmful our food systems has become over the past several decades. Chef Alice Waters wrote, “Finding the beauty in food can change your life,” and I believe that appreciating the poetics of food and the work of growing food will lead us towards farms that are more ecological and in balance with the earth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Gigot is a poet, farmer, and wellness coach. She lives on a small sheep farm in the Skagit Valley. Her second book of poems, Feeding Hour (Wandering Aengus Press, 2020) won a Nautilus Award and was a finalist for the 2021 Washington State Book Award. Jessica’s writing and reviews appear in several publications, including Orion, Taproot, and Poetry Northwest, and she is currently a poetry editor for The Hopper. Her memoir, A Little Bit of Land, will be published by Oregon State University Press in 2022.

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We Are All Born Mad
by Attracta Fahy

I am waiting for the second coming,
it is promised.
I watch for signs, see one across the floor,
over the wine rack, in electric pink,
“We are all born mad”
I laugh.

I am waiting for the chef in Tartare to send my soup,
potato, leek, díllisk, the waitress to bring
my fried chicken sandwich, dressed with fennel,
slaw, and cheese. Today, a day for comfort,

waiting for news, it is imminent, wonder
what we will still know of this earth
after we die.

I am waiting for this pain in my back to inform me,
it’s so hard these days to stay up in the world.
I ask for an image, a dark wood, one strip of light,
my eyes fix on that sign again.

I am waiting to be in my car, alone, where I can be real,
no pressure to smile.
I am waiting for the swallows’ return
their home awaits in my eve shoots.

I am waiting for the strong to stop putting their boot
into the face of the weak, the weak to see their eyes
have a light of their own.

After all these years I am still waiting
to know my purpose, what if we have none
except to exist for the sake of it,
like bluebells spread their colour over the forest?

I am waiting for the promised prophet,
what if it’s a woman, or a child?
waiting at the top of the food chain.
We have gobbled everything,
What’s left but the earth to gobble us.

I am still waiting for a revolution, it is coming.

PUBLISHING NOTE: A variation of this poem was first published on Live Encounters ezine in June 2020.

PAINTING: Woman with a Newspaper by Richard Diebenkorn (1960).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was inspired to write this poem as I was having lunch in Tartare, my favorite café in my home city of Galway. It was one of those days when I felt very reflective and in need of a break from the collective tension being expressed worldwide. It felt apoplectic, as if the world had lost control, with a continuous stream of traumatic news on social media. Coffee shops are a wonderful escape from everything for a little while. There is a sign in Tartare that says, “We are all born mad,” and this resonated strongly with me that day. It was not one particular traumatic event; it was everything. So, focusing on surroundings while waiting for food grounded and allowed some comfort. The black humor somehow lifted the heaviness.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attracta Fahy’s background is Nursing/Social Care. She lives in County Galway, Ireland, works as a Psychotherapist, and is mother to three children. She completed her MA in Writing NUIG ‘17. She was October winner in Irish Times, New Irish Writing 2019, and is a Pushcart and Best of Web nominee. Her work has been included in a number of anthologies, shortlisted for Over The Edge New Writer, and Allingham Poetry in 2019 and 2020. She has been published in Stinging Fly, Banshee, Silver Birch Press, Poetry Ireland Review, Honest Ulsterman, Poethead, Orbis, and several other journals. Fly on the Wall Poetry published her debut chapbook collection, Dinner in the Fields, in March 2020. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

merana cadorette
In Line at the Buffet Wynn, Las Vegas, August 2018
by Rick Lupert

I’m waiting in line at the Wynn Buffet.
Brunch is on the distant horizon and
line politics are on full display.

A woman the aisle over isn’t aware
how her backpack intrudes on the
airspace of this one.

A man in front of me is perusing
criminal mugshots on his phone.
Occasionally he’ll hold one up to

his friend and say “how about this one?”
His friend shakes his head and says “no.”
Every time. Even U.S. Marshalls need to

eat buffet from time to time. Eventually
someone in their party mutters something
about the VIP line and suddenly

they’re gone, presumably with champagne
in their hands and all the food we have
miles yet to eat in their mouths.

It’s okay. They weren’t particularly good at
filling in the space in front of them.
They should have special lines for

People who are focusing on their phones
instead of moving forward. “Take all the
time you want lines” they’ll call them

I think, as I finish writing these words
with awkward amount of space between
me and the people in front of me

and feel the hungry stares of the
brunch-starved ones behind me.
An omelet on every plate

is a phrase i just made up and
feel pretty good about. i am lucky
to be here. Some people wait for years

for the money they need to
stand in this line – A longing from my past
I am still waiting to forget.

PAINTING: What’s for Dinner? by Merana Cadorette. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Lupert

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We took our son to a Souplantation restaurant for the first time a few years back. He marveled at what seemed like an infinite amount of food to his young eyes. With no disrespect meant to the pre-pandemic salad bar restaurants of our past, we thought immediately about the truly impressive (and truly expensive) buffets in Las Vegas that are like planets of food. As soon as we could we took him to one. This poem was written in the line waiting for our turn to eat everything we ever wanted.

PHOTO: The Lupert family, The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas, August 2018. Photo credit: Rick Lupert.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway  and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks, was released in March 2016. He’s authored 25 collections of poetry, including The Toyko-Van Nuys Express (Ain’t Got No Press, August 2020), Hunka Hunka Howdy, Beautiful Mistakes, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild,  A Poet’s Siddur, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Follow him on Facebook.

Author Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

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Just Grapefruit
by Penny Harter

Carefully, I place half a grapefruit
into the small white bowl that fits
it perfectly, use the brown-handled
serrated knife to cut around the rim,
separate the sections.

The first bite is neither sweet nor bitter,
but I drag a drop or two of honey around
the top, love how it glazes each pink piece,
then seeps between dividing membranes.

Pale seeds pop up from their snug burial
in the center hole, and when I’m finished,
I squeeze sticky juice from the spent rind
and drink it down.

Each grapefruit is an offering, its bright
flesh startling my fasting tongue. When
bitterness spills from the morning news,
I temper it with grapefruit, savor hidden
gifts as I slice it open, free each glistening
segment, and enter honeyed grapefruit time.

Previously published on Facebook and Blog. Forthcoming in Still-Water Days, Kelsay Books / Aldrich Press, summer 2021.

Photo by Jill Wellington, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Just Grapefruit” is one of the many poems I began writing last March when the pandemic began, posting them the same or next day on both Facebook and my Blog. I continued this spiritual poem practice hoping to offer oases of calm and hope midst all the Covid (and political) chaos on television and social media. One of the ways to find peace is to pay attention, focus, on the moment. For me, this particular day’s moment was preparing and eating a grapefruit.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penny Harter’s work has appeared in Persimmon Tree, Rattle, Tiferet, American Life in Poetry, and many other print and online publications. Her more recent collections include Still-Water Days (2021, forthcoming from Kelsay Books), A Prayer the Body Makes (Kelsay Books, 2020), The Resonance Around Us (2013), One Bowl ( 2012), and Recycling Starlight (2010). A featured reader at the 1985 and 2010 Dodge Poetry Festivals, she has won three fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Mary Carolyn Davies Award from the PSA, and two residencies from VCCA. For more information about Harter and her work, please visit pennyharterpoet.com.