friday feast: renée gregorio’s “Solitude Dinner” (+ a recipe)

“I frequently dream of having tea with the Queen.” ~ Hugh Grant

photo by Jake Chessum

So yes, Hugh’s here.

Funny about that. We have the same recurring dream involving the Queen. Mine would be more along the lines of a daydream, though.

Hugh likes to visit when I’m having breakfast. He’s just as grumpy as I am in the morning, so we don’t talk while we’re eating. We are totally simpatico and I’m polite enough not to mention the big orange juice stain on his shirt. In fact, I give him the last brownie and he doesn’t even have to explain why he deserves it. It takes all my willpower not to call him “Floppy.”

I’m thinking “Notting Hill” is my favorite of all his movies. It could have something to do with Al Green singing “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” but more likely, every time I see that film I remember Saturday mornings at Portobello Road Antiques Market, or the best-I’ve-ever-had lemon sole fry-ups at Geales.

I’m happy to live inside the world of Renée Gregorio’s whimsical poem of gratitude. Here is a kindred spirit who also summons famous and familiar guests to her table. We never really dine alone, do we? At this marvelous place where memory, fantasy, and yearning intersect, it feels good to recognize what truly feeds us.

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[review + recipe] The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang and Alina Chau

While growing up in Hawai’i, I was always a little jealous of my Chinese friends. They got to celebrate two New Years, once on January 1, and again in late January/early February for Chinese New Year. Moreover, their Chinese New Year was actually a two week Spring festival, where all the children received special red envelopes with money in them.

Though I have long been familiar with many Chinese New Year customs, I did not know very much about the fearful single-horned monster portrayed in the dramatic and colorful lion dance. Thanks to a captivating and delectable new picture book, now we can all meet the famous Nian Monster of ancient legend as he descends upon modern day Shanghai and is cleverly outwitted by a feisty young girl.

In The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang and Alina Chau (Albert Whitman, 2016), young Xingling wonders why all the Chinese New Year decorations are red, so her grandmother (Po Po) tells her all about the Nian Monster — a ferocious creature with “jaws as wide as caverns” and “teeth sharper than swords,” who would get so hungry every Spring, he left his home in the mountains to consume entire villages.

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friday feast: joan logghe’s “Ode to Spoons” (+ a recipe)

from “Back to the Land” by Maira Kalman (2009)

When it comes to eating utensils, spoons reign supreme.

I’ve always loved them more than knives or forks, with their aggressive blades and tines, slices and stabs.

Spoons are friendlier, nurturing. Their rounded bowls invite you to dip, sip, and slurp. The word “spoon,” with its fun-to-pronounce double ‘o,’ has a charm all its own. Say it now:

SPOON

See how your lips gently touch like a soft kiss? Adorable. 🙂

For most of us, spoons came first. Our hungry baby mouths opened wide for rice cereal, puréed peaches and strained peas. And when some of the food missed its target, the edge of the spoon magically corraled any oozy bits from chin and cheek. So accommodating!

And what about Spoon’s most important function?

SOUP! Ah, soup . . .

I was delighted to discover Joan Logghe’s “Ode to Spoons” recently. Love how she celebrates the divine in the everyday. I was happy to learn she shares my love for Maira Kalman, for whom ordinary objects also take on extraordinary significance when viewed through the lens of history, heart, memory.

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autumn pleasures: three poems, butternut bisque, and gingerbread applesauce cake

Hello Friends. Can’t believe it’s already the end of October!

Fall is going much too fast for me. I wish there was a way to make it last longer — trees aflame with color, deep blue skies, crisp mornings, apple everything and friendly pumpkins! If I had my way, I would skip summer entirely and have two autumns in a row.

More than any other season, Fall reminds me to make the most of each moment. Lovely though it may be, there’s always this sense of reckoning, the gathering in and taking stock, and with that an acute awareness of life’s evanescence.

“Pumpkin Patch” by Paul Peel

AUTUMN
by Linda Pastan

I want to mention
summer ending
without meaning the death
of somebody loved

or even the death
of the trees.
Today in the market
I heard a mother say

Look at the pumpkins,
it’s finally autumn!
And the child didn’t think
of the death of her mother

which is due before her own
but tasted the sound
of the words on her clumsy tongue:
pumpkin; autumn.

Let the eye enlarge
with all it beholds.
I want to celebrate
color, how one red leaf

flickers like a match
held to a dry branch,
and the whole world goes up
in orange and gold.

~ from Heroes in Disguise (W.W. Norton, 1992)

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friday feast: Lesléa Newman’s “Ode to Chocolate” (+ recipe and giveaway winner!)

“Nobody knows the truffles I’ve seen.” ~ George Lang

Ready to take a walk on the dark side?

Slip into these luscious chocolate beauties, then gently sashay through the lines of this impassioned verse by acclaimed author, poet and editor Lesléa Newman.

Can you tell she  LOVES ♥  chocolate?

Yeah, she’s totally one of us. 🙂

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ODE TO CHOCOLATE

I need a sweet, I need a treat,
I need to eat some chocolate.

Dark as wood and so damn good,
If I could, I’d live on chocolate.

Shaped like a kiss, delivers bliss,
The deep abyss of chocolate.

Just one bite, I’m up all night,
Such is the might of chocolate.

You’ll never wed me or even bed me
Until you’ve fed me chocolate.

I’m sick and sure the only cure
Is more and more pure chocolate.

The smallest bite brings huge delight,
High as a kite from chocolate.

I drink it hot, right from the pot,
Nothing hits the spot like chocolate.

A day without, I’m sure to pout
And shout out, “Give me chocolate!”

I must confess, I’m one hot mess
Unless I possess chocolate.

Without that cocoa, I go loco,
This ain’t no joke—oh chocolate!

Before I dribble, I’ll end this scribble,
I need to nibble chocolate!

~ Copyright © 2016 Lesléa Newman. All rights reserved.

Dark Chocolate Lucky Cats via Not on the High Street

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Lesléa: I was on a self-imposed week-long writing retreat, between projects, not knowing what on earth to write about. When in doubt, I always turn to poetry and when in double doubt, I frequently turn to form.

“Ode to Chocolate” is a variation on the ghazal, one of my favorite forms. The ghazal originated in Persia, and literally means “the talk of boys and girls” or sweet talk. I took the notion of “sweet talk” literally and decided to write a love poem to one of my great loves — chocolate! The form of the ghazal  uses internal rhyme and a refrain at the end of the second line of each couplet. It does not tell a story like a narrative poem, but is unified by theme.

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