friday feast: a bowlful of summer

 tiny banquet committee/flickr 

Today, I’m banishing all thoughts of winter and serving up a bountiful bowl full of summer.

tofutti break/flickr

I’m tossing in balmy breezes, a view of the sparkling Mediterranean resplendent in azure, cobalt and cerulean, and an enticing spread of fresh salads and crusty peasant bread. I’m channeling all this goodness because of a sublime poem I recently “devoured” in Barbara Crooker’s latest book, More (C&R Press, 2010). Her poems revolve around the theme, “Always the hunger for more,” which pretty much sums up my life.

            jeroen knippenberg/flickr

Taste this ode, roll its words around in your mouth, and see if you’re not also transformed by the beauty and sensuality of the language and the vivid images carefully arranged like a master chef’s antipasto. Thanks to Barbara, I’m newly appreciative of the sacred, medicinal, cosmetic, historical and culinary aspects of what Homer called, “liquid gold.” Can you tell I’m now bathed in golden light? *blink blink*

Habib Allahdad/flickr

by Barbara Crooker

From hard green drupes
of bitter flesh, a river
of gold and green — From
trees bent like old women
whose leaves flash
olive drab to silver
in the hot breeze,
a bowlful of summer —

The transmutation:
flesh of the tree to liquid amber —
Picked by hand, collected in nets,
the willow baskets fill with fruit,
spill into wooden boxes,
are crushed between wheels
of stone, pits and all.

You can marry it with aceto balsamico
to dress your salad, gilding emerald
and ruby leaves — You can ladle
it on white beans and sage, drizzle
it on sun-warm tomatoes, lace it
in minestrone, bathe garlic heads
for roasting. You can make it
into soap, rub it with mint leaves
for migraine. Take a spoonful
to prevent hangover. Mash
it with rosemary and all the pain
is gone from creaky knees.

Velvet on the tongue. The light
of late afternoons. I am eating
sunshine, spread on bread;
primroses open in my mouth.
My chin gleams yellow,
the opposite of a halo,
but one surely even the saints
would recognize and bless.

~ from MORE, published by C&R Press, copyright © 2010 Barbara Crooker. All rights reserved.



LOVE that last stanza! The entire poem is “velvet on the tongue.” I’m thinking more women than men seem to write about the sensuality of food, appreciating its colors, shapes, textures, and ultimately, its primal and emotional rammifications. Do you know of any male poets who do this as well?



♥ Greece boasts the highest per capita consumption in the world (26 liters per person per year), and Spain is the world’s largest producer (1 million+ tons/year). Italy takes the prize for most consumption overall (30% of the world’s) each year.

♥ Residents of Crete consume the most olive oil per person in the world, and have the lowest death rate from heart disease.

♥ Olive trees have a life expectancy of 500 years; some trees in the Eastern Mediterranean are over 2000 years old!

♥ Athletes in ancient Greece ritually rubbed olive oil all over their bodies. *fans self*

Today’s Roundup is being hosted by Mary Ann at Great Kid Books. She’s serving up the full menu of this week’s poetic offerings, and may or may not be wearing a halo.

Cook up something with olive oil this weekend!

Renee Rendler-Kaplan/flickr

Buon Appetito!

Click here to read some reviews of MORE!


Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.