“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food.” ~ Michael Levine
Please don’t wake me. I’m in the midst of a chocolate truffle dream. I’m surrounded by beautiful bonbons and it’s my job to taste them. One by one, I wrap my lips around the scrumptious hand-shaped orbs, savoring each note of exquisite flavor as they slowly melt on my tongue.
Deep Milk Pleasure with its creamy milk chocolate buttery center takes me back to the after school treats of my childhood. With the rich white chocolate of Coconut Rum Paradise I’ve washed up on the shores of Hawai’i, while the Original Dark, with its chocolate liquor and handsome dusting of Scharffen Berger cocoa, speaks of men in tuxedos waltzing in dimly lit ballrooms.
With an Irish last name, I’m entitled to an Irish Cream Dream. I breathe in the heady aroma of Bailey’s Irish Cream before gently sinking my teeth into the rich Valrhona chocolate shell, my taste buds tickled by those sprinkles of coffee-infused El Ceibo. It’s like meeting Aidan Turner at the corner pub. Pure ecstasy!
Since I am serious about my chocolate, I save the best for last: Uber Dark and Decadent. Dangerous and devilish, this one is capable of bringing even veteran tasters to their knees. This is how it is with 70% cacao and sassy cinnamon– one small taste and you’re hooked. Come over to the deepest darkest dark of the dark side.
I’ll always remember the day I found Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in the public library.
“Read me,” demanded a well worn copy left behind on one of the round wooden tables in the children’s room. I picked it up, read it all the way through, then sat down in a tiny chair to read it again.
I became a Viorst fan that day as I eagerly made my way through the other Alexander books. I found myself coveting train pajamas and contemplating a move to Australia. Totally nailing the child voice, Viorst (who made me very glad I didn’t have gum stuck in my hair) had a way of telling it true and assuaging frustration and calamity with just the right dose of humor. Months later, when the family across the street lost their cat, I gave them a copy of The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. Judith to the rescue again.
Her latest poetry collection, What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? (Atheneum, 2016) is subtitled, “Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem.” Feeling a little lonely in your own skin? Or silly enough to eat a lamp for lunch? Maybe you’re fiercely jealous of too sweet, too kind, nauseatingly polite Anna May — why not bite or bop her? What do you do when your best friend doesn’t want to be your best friend any more, or your mom is just too bossy, or your head is spinning from all those reading and writing rules?
Did you know that poetry is the most important meal of the day?
Spoon up a hearty bowl of metaphors, savor a sonnet, sip a warm couplet of coffee or tea.
Since man cannot live on bread alone, today we’re serving up a breakfast buffet of five poems over easy. Feel free to grab a quick nibble or graze at your leisure, whatever feeds the need over this holiday weekend. Nothing like a few choice words to tease thought, kindle fond memories, and get your motor running. Did somebody say bacon?
Step right up and eat all about it.
A LITANY OF TOAST by Cathy Lentes
Come sit at my Grandmother’s table . . .
let your elbows rest, cool and damp,
on the scrubbed red oilcloth.
Before you a bowl of butter,
fat yellow sticks
cut and jumbled like stones,
honey clinging to comb,
jam and jelly
sealed in paraffin tombs.
A clatter of spoons,
the dance of grease on an iron pan,
the tender crack and sizzle as
morning splits open again.
Her hands blessing the stove,
she murmurs, mindful of toast.
Now, on a plate, heavy and broad,
steaming eggs like sunshine,
thick planks of bacon,
bread, crisp and golden,
butter spread crust to crust. Eat, she says, eat.
This morning I’ll skip the bacon
and eggs and have a poem over light —
two or three if you don’t mind.
I feel my appetite coming on.
And even a stack of flapjacks
which I love — with butter
and boysenberry jam spreading
their fingers of sweetness over
the ragged edges — won’t do me now.
When this hunger’s on, only a poem
will do, one that will surprise my need
like a stranger knocking
at the door (a small knock — at first,
I hardly hear it) to ask directions,
it turns out, to this house. He’s looking
for me. Who are you I ask? Your brother
he says, the one you never knew you had
or the one who you’ve been trying to remember
all your life but somehow couldn’t recall
until now, when he arrives.
And there he is
before me smiling, holding out his arms
— and all this by chance. Do you
So serve me up a poem friend,
but just go easy on the tropes,
for instance, synecdoche and such. A simile
or two is fine and metaphor’s all right.
A rhyming quatrain, maybe on the side
would be ok, but not too much —
they sometimes give me gas.
God I love a breakfast such as this.
It gives me a running start and keeps me going
through to dark when I’m as hungry as a horse.
But that’s another poem. Let’s eat.
I savored every Saturday
when she rendered
up to the gods what was theirs
(a burnt offering:
crisp edged plank of glistening
smoked pork in its glory).
at five, I marveled at the marbled
slab of sizzle–
standing on a chair, my eyes watering,
as before me a transubstantiation occurred:
bacon became Bacon, my mouth gaped adrool–
and still that sizzle echoes
through time’s larders
and the years’ open windows,
her gingham curtains wafting
as fat is forever rendered
into memory and hickory-smoke
I love entering the worlds of these poems, hearing the voices. It’s like having interesting company at the breakfast table, isn’t it?
The eminently talented Julie Larios is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Roundup at The Drift Record. After you’ve had your second cup of coffee, scamper over and peruse the full menu of poetic goodies being shared in the blogosphere this week. Have a great holiday weekend!
1. With the world going mad, we need someone easy on the eyes to lift our spirits. Who better than Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark? Season 2 of the series is not coming our way for awhile, so in the meantime, indulge your fantasies about this fine specimen of manhood with the 2017 Poldark Calendar by Andy Rose Photography. Aidan Turner month by month, all year long! Ooh-la-la. Calendar images are also available as prints, or on mugs, fridge magnets, throw pillows, and tea towels. Imagine a Poldark mug full of warm Irish Breakfast tea! Mmmmm.
2. Heads up Wizard of Oz fans! The first four books in Debbi Michiko Florence’snew Dorothy and Toto early reader chapter book series published by Picture Window Books are now available for pre-order! The series officially launches in August for library editions (trade paperbacks out in October), and the stories look adorable. Here’s the synopsis for Dorothy and Toto: What’s YOUR Name?:
Dorothy’s made a new friend in the Land of Oz. But every time he sees her and her little dog, Toto, he calls her by a nickname, much to Dorothy’s dismay. With its sweet, gentle tone, this title is a reminder that the best friendships are built on honesty and trust.
The other books are Dorothy and Toto: The Hunt for the Perfect Present, Dorothy and Toto: The Disappearing Picnic, and Dorothy and Toto: Little Dog Lost. Can’t wait to read them!
3. New poetry book alert! The Doll Collection, the first themed anthology published by the newly established small press Terrapin Books, was just released at the end of March. The first anthology to focus solely on dolls, it contains 88 poems by such poets as Gail Gerwin, Adele Kenny, Michael Waters, Susan Rich, Kim Roberts, Charlotte Mandel, Andrea Potos, Richard Garcia and Jeffrey Harrison.
Why do dolls compel us so much? What are their meanings? What lessons do they have to teach us? The Doll Collection explores these questions. This wonderful anthology of poems asks us to rethink dolls. Not just toys, dolls signify much more than childhood. Dolls shape our thinking about the female body, about race and class. Dolls influence our understanding of childhood. Symbols of perfection, they both comfort and terrify. Dolls represent, as Freud would say, the “uncanny.” They are replicas, simulacra, souvenirs and secrets. They are objects we recall with intense nostalgia but also bodies we dismember and destroy. They might be made of cornhusks, clay, rags, paper, cloth, wood, porcelain, celluloid, bisque, plastic, or metal. For centuries, dolls have taught us how to understand our world and are windows to other worlds. Dolls are portals to our pasts and to ourselves. Dolls open the doors to our imagination. (from the Introduction, by Nicole Cooley)
You may remember my mentioning that Terrapin Books was founded by New Jersey poet Diane Lockward, whose poems have been featured here at Alphabet Soup many times, along with poems by several other poets featured in this anthology.
4. Looking for a unique party favor — maybe for a special birthday, anniversary or graduation party? What about cookies that look like the guest(s) of honor? Check out Parker’s Crazy Cookies! The all-natural vanilla-flavored cookies are low sugar, low fat, and contain no trans fats or high fructose corn syrup. All you have to do is pick a ship date and send them your artwork or photo. You’ll receive a rough draft (open to revisions) within 24-48 hours. Once they receive your approval, your cookies will be freshly baked on the day you requested shipment.
This looks like a fun, novel idea. You can also order pet look-alike custom cookies or choose from their all occasion Cookie Collections.
5. I’m a big fan of stop motion films and love “Fresh Guacamole” by PES, where familiar objects are used as ingredients. This film was nominated for an Academy Award back in 2013 and is the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar. Brilliant!
6. And now, Star Wars fans, behold Darth Grater, a silicone cheese grater that’s “an elegant kitchen implement from a far more civilized age.” Now you can use the unlimited power of the force to add flavor to your cooking. Looks ‘great’ doesn’t it (tee hee)? Coming to a galaxy near you in October 2016. Available now for pre-order. May the cheese be with you.
7. Here are several beautiful lampshades you definitely wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) want to wear on your head, but they sure would dress up a special lamp perched on an end table in a favorite room.
The Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party shade was the first to catch my eye, but I also love the Woodland Wonders and Bright Birds. All are designed and handmade by Katherine Lainton of Genie Lampshades in the English Cotswolds. They come in several sizes and are suitable for ceiling pendant light fittings or lamp bases.
8. What’s in your tortilla? How about pens and pencils? Check out this fun tortilla pencil case! This tasty beauty holds 12 writing implements and rolls up for convenient storage in your bag or backpack. Nice way to keep things organized. About 10.6″ in diameter. Now, that’s a wrap!
9. Finally, I’m addicted to the wonderful “Life Where I’m From” videos. They feature 9-year-old Aiko and her family, who are originally from Canada but are currently living in Japan. Aiko’s father has produced a number of videos to show kids around the world what everyday life is like for them. There are videos about preparing dinner, doing the laundry, showing their apartment, and eating at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, among others. Aiko is adorable and has an endearing screen presence. Her mom is Japanese and her dad is Canadian. Fascinating and educational for all ages, pleasant to watch, easy to get hooked. Here’s the Sushi Restaurant video, which made me wish we had these in the U.S.:
In my mother’s kitchen, there was always a gallon jug of Aloha Shoyu and a 100 lb. bag of calrose rice in the cupboard; garlic, ginger, toasted sesame seeds and green onions in the fridge, and papayas and bananas on the counter.
The middle child of 12 and second oldest daughter, Margaret was known in the family for her good Korean food, a style of cooking she learned from her mother and continued to develop through decades of practice. She never used written recipes for the Korean dishes, magically turning out batches of kimchi and other banchan, platters of bulgogi, kalbi, jap chae, shrimp and vegetable jhun, and bowls of mandu with the studied efficiency and honed techniques of a master chef.
Though she had a hutch full of English bone china, I think she valued most the set of stainless steel pots and pans she once purchased from a door-to-door salesman when I was 9 or 10. “Don’t ever give these away when I’m gone,” she reminded my brother and me repeatedly. “They don’t make cookware like this anymore.” She was right of course. Those pieces served her well for over 50 years and thousands of meals.