friday feast: ogden nash mash

Happy Birthday to Ogden Nash!

America’s favorite humorist would have been 109 years old today. His poems and witticisms are part of America’s DNA; at one time or another, we’ve all heard Nashisms like, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker,” “Parsley is gharsley,” and, “Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.”

A shot of his light verse is the sure cure for doldrums of any sort. He’s one of those poets whose style is so recognizable that even when you encounter lines he’s written that you’ve never seen before, you sort of nod, knowingly, and think, “this has got to be Ogden Nash.” Who else so deftly misspells words (or makes up his own), packs in the puns, teases the reader with irregular meter and lines of uneven length? He took great pleasure in the element of surprise, pulling out all the stops for comic effect.

Not too long ago, I purchased a collection of his food poems aptly embellished with Etienne Delessert’s droll illustrations. Whenever I’m in the mood for a laugh snack, I treat myself to a serving of Squab, Tarragon, Smelt, or Kippers (things I wouldn’t necessarily eat in real life, but find strangely palatable cooked up in Nash’s literary kitchen). Thought it would be fun to celebrate his birthday by featuring what is perhaps his most well known food poem. Just for today, you may also have all the virtual candy and/or liquor you please.

Bruschetta Burger by the Cooking Photographer

by Ogden Nash

Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes,
And some of ladies’ lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways
And coarse ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.

Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.
Pooh for the cook,
And pooh for the price!
Some of it’s nicer but all of it’s nice.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pâté or patty or pasty.
But there’s nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest of greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they’re food,
All food,
And I think very highly of food.
Though I’m broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood
On food.

Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
‘Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I’d rather painters painted food.

Just food,
Just any old kind of food.
Let it be sour
Or let it be sweet,
As long as you’re sure it is something to eat.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you’d win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it’s something to eat.
If it’s food,
It’s food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.



My thoughts exactly ☺! Oh, why not one more?


Let us call Yorkshire pudding
A fortunate blunder;
It’s a sort of popover
That tripped and popped under.



Dori Reads has got the full menu of poetic offerings this week. Do you think she’d like some gharsley parsley or popunders? Take her this one:


“You can have my jellyfish
I am not sellyfish.”

And to you, one hundred and nine good wishes for a great weekend. What’s your favorite Nashism?


*Yorkshire Pudding by nanlt/flickr.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

33 thoughts on “friday feast: ogden nash mash

    1. Hello there!

      Glad that burger has got you salivating this morning :). The Cooking Photographer is one of my favorite blogs — she posts beautiful photos of all her recipes.

      Nice to meet a fellow Nash fan!


  1. “Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave
    When they think that their children are naive. ”

    nash could easily have written this last week, about social media or raunchy YA books or practically anything.


  2. I have to agree with Irishheather said – the burger looks ‘insanely awesome’ – my tummy has just rumbled looking at the photo. Enjoyed reading through Ogden Nash’s poetry. Thanks for sharing.


  3. What a wonderful way to celebrate Poetry Friday!

    In keeping with the theme of humor and food, may I offer this delicious dish:

    The Adventures of Isabel

    Isabel met an enormous bear,
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t care;
    The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
    The bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
    The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
    How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you!
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry.
    Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
    She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
    Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.
    Once in a night as black as pitch
    Isabel met a wicked old witch.
    The witch’s face was cross and wrinkled,
    The witch’s gums with teeth were sprinkled.
    Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
    I’ll turn you into an ugly toad!
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
    Isabel didn’t scream or scurry,
    She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
    But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.
    Isabel met a hideous giant,
    Isabel continued self reliant.
    The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
    He had one eye in the middle of his forehead.
    Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
    I’ll grind your bones to make my bread.
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
    Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
    She nibled the zwieback that she always fed off,
    And when it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off.
    Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
    He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
    The doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
    And the doctor’s satchel bulged with pills.
    The doctor said unto Isabel,
    Swallow this, it will make you well.
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
    Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
    She took those pills from the pill concocter,
    And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.

    ~ Ogden Nash, of course; Isabel was his daughter


  4. Wow — LOVE this one! Thanks so much for sharing it here. I’m trying to imagine what it must have been like to have Ogden Nash for your father :). A great poem of child empowerment, and of course so much fun!


  5. “Every New Year is the direct descendant, isn’t it, of a long line of proven criminals?”
    Ogden Nash

    Great post, Jama! I always wondered what a Yorkshire pudding was.


    1. Yorkshire Pudding is made individually like these popover thingies, or in a big rectangular pan and then cut into serving size portions. Either way, good stuff, especially with some gravy on it. 🙂


    1. Yes, perhaps Nash wrote “The Clean Platter” with just the two of us in mind :). He was a foodie before it became all the rage.


  6. What a fun poem! I have to admit to eating both smelts (part of my husband’s traditional many-fishes Christmas Eve feast) and Yorkshire pud. Why shouldn’t we be like Nash and play with our food?


    1. I’m impressed with your smelts experience! Funny how we’ve been taught not to play with our food, but now I don’t see the harm in it, as long as we don’t waste anything. . . 😀


  7. Great post, Jama! The humor writers are real heroes of mine. As for one of my favorite Nashisms, here it is:

    I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance, Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.


    1. Oh, I hadn’t heard that one. Thanks, Jill :)! I might just go around saying “insouciance” and “nouciance” all weekend.


  8. Ok, I admit it, you got me to like another poem. 😛 I’m impressed Mr Nash knew what scrapple was – where was he from, do you know?

    Also, I love the pop-under description. 😀


  9. As usual, your Poetry Friday post is delicious, Jama – both food-wise and poet-wise! Look at that photo of Ogden Nash – I’ve never seen that one before – he’s just a kid! Amazing.

    For me, it’s impossible to pick out a favorite Nash poem, but here is one that seems hugely relevant to our times even though it was written decades ago (not sure the format will hold, but you can pick out the rhyme and figure out the line endings….) It’s titled “Everybody Tells Me Everything”—

    I find it very difficult to enthuse
    Over the current news.
    Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
    And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.



  10. Oh! I’m so glad you mentioned the quote about progress, because I’ve loved that one for a long time – BUT I had misattributed it to G.K. Chesterton! Happy to be set straight.
    And all these food lines are to be treasured…I hope I can remember a few to quote, too.


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