Archives for posts with tag: fruit

mango painting copy
The Pickle Factory
by Pragya Bajpai

My grandfather owned a pickle factory
During my vacation, he took me along
That was his way of explaining the tough world

When I was six, he drove me through a trail of orchards
on the first morning of that winter to a village known for
great mango farming not far from the city
I played there by the riverside with the farmer aunty
She gifted me a pair of earrings and a bag of mangoes for my siblings
In the meantime, my grandfather made a deal
after an hour-long negotiation
then the truck was loaded with caution

He took me around the factory
Where the hall was full of huge oil drums lined up neatly
The spices were properly stacked in shelves
where the village men and women
were intently chopping raw mangoes for pickle
with the handmade iron cutter with wooden base
It wasn’t easy but he made me cut the smallest one carefully
to feel the labour involved in it
I was tired but my thrill remained intact
It was more exciting than going back
to doing mathematical calculations

PAINTING: Mango (watercolor) by Yevhen Verlen.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My grandfather, an Ayurvedic expert, established a pickle factory sometime during 1970s. The factory was located in the outskirts of the city around sprawling agricultural land. My grandfather’s pickle recipe was a revolution in taste. Mango pickle is an important condiment in Indian cuisine with plenty of health benefits, and my grandfather’s product became popular and in high demand. Produced with a high level of hygiene, the product earned government certification. Pickles were made with mustard oil and spices before they were put aside for fermentation. The pickling involved various steps in the production process that required huge manpower; but, as the company progressed, high technology machines were procured to speed production. The aroma of raw mangoes and spices filled the factory so much that one could detect it from a distance. Visiting a factory, knowing the process, and understanding the whole business from the grassroots level have been a great learning experience since childhood, the memory of which keeps me grounded.

Bajpai copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pragya Bajpai, Ph.D., is a mother and a Central Government Officer serving on the faculty of English at the National Defence Academy. She is a post graduate from Lucknow University and holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Banaras Hindu University, India. Pragya published her debut book in 2021 titled A Potpourri of Proverbs, poems based on 51 English proverbs. She has co-edited four anthologies celebrating the armed forces. Her poetry has appeared in many anthologies and magazines.

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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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How to Make Jam
by Stephen Howarth

Pick your fruits and words with care. Weigh them
accurately, in good proportions. Choose your tools,
knowing the function and purpose of each:
the thermometer and boiling pan, the paper and pen.

Begin with the half-intended products of
your garden: cook with what you know,
use the fruits you’ve grown, try them together,
test and taste, discover how they combine to give you

senses of futurity and seasoned summer fulness.
Rinse your words, top and tail as needed,
place them in the boiling pan, add a modicum of water
and more sugar than you consume in a month,

because life’s shocking sharpness and tartness
may be softened in this new creation. Use every sense
to create this newness. Apple and rose-hip, gooseberry
and apricot and gin, strawberry, peach and mead:

You are a magician now, imagining and making,
melding and moulding. Do not overboil.

PAINTING: Jelly Shelf by Mary Pratt (1999), All Rights Reserved. 

Jams and jellies

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During Britain’s first lockdown, I had fun teaching myself how to make successful jams and jellies.Habitually I give some away, but am often given some in return. So I have at least a year’s supply for domestic needs, and mainly eat it during breakfast (although my stalwart preferences are marmalade — some given to me — and Marmite, a spread that you might not know). The jars are basically any old jars that have been thoroughly washed in HOT water and heated in the oven prior to potting up, so that the jam (just off the boil) doesn’t crack them. ¶ Oh, and in this case at least, size matters! I’ve been given some marmalade in such enormous jars that they’re really quite awkward — Imagine a Hellmann’s jar with a two-pound capacity . . . So I don’t do that, just ones around one-pound capacity maximum, with a number of smaller jars to use as gifts. Top tip: go easy on the ginger.

PHOTO: The author’s kitchen and an array of his jams and jellies. Left to right, rose-hip and apple jelly; raspberry and blueberry jam; gooseberry and mint; gooseberry, grape and apricot brandy; apricot, peach and mead; strawberry, peach and mead; courgette, lemon and ginger. Others made later include cotton candy grapes and mead, and rhubarb, apple, ginger and sloe gin.

Howarth

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Howarth has been an independent professional author of history all his working life. He served in the Royal Naval Reserves both on the lower deck and as an officer and wrote the official centenary history of the RNR — for which he was appointed an honorary Commander by HM the Queen. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Life Member of the US Naval Institute and The 1805 Club. He earned a Master’s degree (with Distinction) in creative writing at Nottingham Trent University.

umeboshi
Self-Portrait with Umeboshi
by Robert Okaji

Our resemblance strengthens each day.

Reddened by sun and shiso,
seasoned with salt,

we preside, finding
comfort in failure. Or does
the subjugation of one’s flavor for another’s

define defeat? The bitter, the sour, the sweet
attract and repel

like lovers separated by distances
too subtle to see.
Filling space becomes the end.
What do you learn when you look through the glass?

Knowing my fate, I say fallen. I say earth.

NOTE: Find out more about Umeboshi at wikipedia.org.

okaji

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Okaji’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Otoliths, Prime Number Magazine, Clade Song, and Vayavya, among others. He lives in Texas with his wife and two dogs.

apron
You can tell by the way he slices the cantaloupe
by D.H. Tracy

he is harmless, camera’d
in a muffled parliament of cantaloupe-motions.
For every doubt a speech.

He plans to quarter it and quarter the quarters.
The knife first rehearses
a meridian, then the equator,

then mid-cut tilts
and leaves a tatter on one half’s rim.
You can tell he thinks about

what thought is bad at. You can see
that by comparison a chimp would appear,
within its limitations, deft, while the man

with no limitations with respect to principles of melon-slicing
does not. You can tell
he withholds himself from cantaloupe,

as if frightened they will go extinct and take
costs sunk in the skill of slicing them, and further tell
it will be the same next time, him approaching

the fruit as though newly, wondering if it had
a stone in it, or pith and segments,
or required coring, or stank when punctured,

or would show pleasing shapes in section.
He switches grip,
placing his palm over the fat edge of the blade

because a sock puppet has squeaked,
Safety first.
The rinds parted from the sixteenths

are more or less a waste of flesh, according as thrift
argued with intemperance. You can tell
the impending chunks will be publicly homely, not those

of the cruise ship buffet where the night-shift Neopolitan
surpasses himself with flutes and scallops.
You can tell right off a mind unquiet

and at once absent, now remembering
J. at seventeen,
something out of a Kenyan Vermeer,

smiling elfinly as she sliced the cantaloupe.
You could tell by the way she sliced the cantaloupe

the way one slices a cantaloupe would tell a lot.
He draws the knife
along each inside edge to shave the pulp and seedmatter,

varying pressure, speed, and angle of attack
like a deaf man bowing a cello.
Stutters mark the inner faces. He slices

the slices radially into chunks, and varies
the spacing between the cuts from equal angles,
which makes the pieces too big at the center,

to equal volumes, which makes them too long at the poles.
You can tell, as he squeezes a lime-half over the pile
and steps back to admire his freehanded

benighted by-committee cantaloupe-justice,
he cannot be the children’s hockey coach
or run for office, the erratic hexes him, he

circulates sometimes fogged and twitching in his house,
not wishing you could not tell,
exactly, but wanting out.

Source: Poetry (May 2010).

IMAGE: Garden fresh cantaloupe apron, available at zazzle.com.

dh-tracy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: D.H. Tracy‘s poems, essays, reviews, and translations appear widely, including Poetry, The American Poetry Review, and The Yale Review. He is the author the poetry collection Janet’s Cottage (St. Augustine’s Press, 2012), winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize, available at Amazon.com. He lives in Illinois.

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THE ALMOND TREE (Excerpt)
by D.H. Lawrence

Here there’s an almond tree — you have never seen
  Such a one in the north — it flowers on the street, and I stand
  Every day by the fence to look up for the flowers that expand
At rest in the blue, and wonder at what they mean.

Photo: “Almond Tree” by Kristina Oda, OdaPhotography, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find prints at etsy.com.

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ODE TO CRANBERRY SAUCE
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?

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AUGUST MORNING
by Albert Garcia

It’s ripe, the melon
by our sink. Yellow,
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes
the house too sweetly.
At five I wake, the air
mournful in its quiet.
My wife’s eyes swim calmly
under their lids, her mouth and jaw
relaxed, different.
What is happening in the silence
of this house? Curtains
hang heavily from their rods.
Ficus leaves tremble
at my footsteps. Yet
the colors outside are perfect–
orange geranium, blue lobelia.
I wander from room to room
like a man in a museum:
wife, children, books, flowers,
melon. Such still air. Soon
the mid-morning breeze will float in
like tepid water, then hot.
How do I start this day,
I who am unsure
of how my life has happened
or how to proceed
amid this warm and steady sweetness?

Poem copyright © by Albert Garcia from his book Skunk Talk (Bear Starr Press, 2005), available at Amazon.com.

Painting: “Melon,” watercolor by Ema Angelova, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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WATERMELONS
by Charles Simic

Green Buddhas
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smile
And spit out the teeth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charles Simic (born May 9, 1938), a Serbian-American poet, was co-poetry editor of the Paris Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn’t End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

“Watermelons” is found in Charles Simic’s poetry collection Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk (George Braziller, 1974), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. The book is available at Amazon.com.

Photo: “Watermelons at Julia’s Fruit Stand” (Los Molinos, CA) by Michelle Hickock, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Today we honor Frida Kahlo, the groundbreaking artist who was born on a summer day (July 6, 1907) and passed away on a summer day (July 13, 1954). Like her husband, the celebrated painter Diego Rivera (1886-1957), the subject of Kahlo’s last painting was the watermelon — the essence of all things summer. We raise a slice of summer to Frida and Diego — and thank them for their sublime art. Kahlo’s last painting includes the phrase “Viva La Vida” — long live life — as exemplified by the wonders of the watermelon.

When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.” MARK TWAIN

For the curious, Diego Rivera‘s last painting is featured below.

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