friday feast: a taste of the bittersweet

        photo by Romaine3.

Ah, lemon curd! Summer in a jar!

Would you like yours on a scone or a piece of warm toast, between the layers of a cake, or baked in a tart? I love this perfect blend of the tangy and the sweet — for me, it’s quintessentially England.


Recently I purchased Poetry on a Plate — a truly delectable smorgasbord of poems and recipes compiled by the Poetry Society of England. It’s similar to The Poet’s Cookbook (which features poems and recipes with an Italian theme), but Poetry on a Plate also includes musings from chefs and food writers. It’s the best of both worlds — poets talk about food, chefs talk about poetry. 

I especially love this lemon curd poem — a little French flavor mixed with the English, and like Susan Rich’s,  "A Poem for Will, Baking," it shows how people turn to cooking or baking as comfort, solace, and meditation. I love the interweaving of recipe process with travel itinerary, the palpable sadness. With each step the narrator completes, the person leaving is farther away. Is this a permanent leaving, or will she make a sweet return? Lemon Curd, after all, is a drama that could go either way. In any case, he has made something to fill the void, at least for now.

by Robert Seatter

I am making lemon curd
while you are travelling back to France.
(One o’clock you take the bus.)

An insanely domestic thing to be doing
in the middle of this black hole of loss;
but the precise imperatives
of the Sainsbury’s Cookbook of Afternoon Teas
are a sort of comfort.
(Two o’clock you check in at Heathrow.)

Four brown eggs and four yellow lemons,
half a bag of caster sugar and half a pound of butter:
all you need for the perfect lemon curd.
(Three o’clock you fly to Lyon.)

Mix the sugar with the lemons,
and beat with patience for ten minutes or more
till you get a sticky paste that remains on the back
of a wooden spoon.
(Six o’clock your time you land, then
take a train to Montpellier.)

Then beat more patience,
without letting the water boil
else it mars the smoothness of the curd.
Allow to cool and then place in the fridge.
(Ten o’clock you sleep alone in crisp white sheets,
in a foreign room, your mind still travelling.)

And I have a perfect lemon curd,
stoppered in a jar, labelled and dated
with the date that you left.

~ from Poetry on a Plate: A Feast of Poems and Recipes, 2nd Edition (Salt Publishing 2006).

Arc de Triomphe, Montpellier, France (photo by Peter Curbishley).

Also very cool is that I always used to buy my lemon curd tarts from Sainsbury’s. And is it my imagination, or is Montpellier graced with beautiful golden yellow buildings? Le citron!

Please help yourself to some tarts and cake, just in case. Life is so unpredictable.

            photo: Le Silly.

Lemon Curd Cake by dolcedanielle (Martha Stewart recipe here).

Today’s Poetry Friday host is uber cool rock mom, Kelly Polark. Paint your toenails black and zip on over there to feast on the full menu of delicious poems being served up in the blogosphere!

Happy Weekend!

♥ Related post: "Fresh Squeezed Emotion."

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.