April 10, 2013

Hipster Kitchen Eats Poetry for Breakfast

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April is National Poetry Month. Here at Hipster Kitchen, this is a big deal, as only food can contend with literature in the contest for my Absolute Favorite Thing Ever. But what better way to reconcile these two loves than to combine them? This week, I’ve assembled a brief collection ––  a tasting menu, if you will –– of my favorite food- and feast-related poems. Bon appetit, dear readers.


William Carlos Williams, “This Is Just To Say“: So, William Carlos Williams is really into the plums he found in somebody else’s fridge. He may be a great poet, but he would be a terrible roommate. Just saying.

Christina Rossetti, “Goblin Market: If it were a choice between the plums in the icebox and the fairy fruits from this work, rumored to be “like honey to the throat  / But poison in the blood;” I’d probably take the plums. Still, this is a wickedly delicious read, and a literary classic.

Seamus Heaney, “Oysters”: Eminent Irish wordsmith Seamus Heaney made an appearance at Cornell last semester, and he graced attendees with a reading of this particular poem. There is no better way to express the joy of a dinner party than saying: “there we were, toasting friendship, / Laying down a perfect memory /In the cool thatch and crockery.”

Allen Ginsberg, “Supermarket in California”: Not even Wegmans can compete with this “neon fruit supermarket.” Apparently Whitman, de Lorca, and Ginsberg all shop here. What price bananas, indeed.

Lucille Clifton, “cutting greens”: My roommate’s current lunch of choice is panini with mozzarella and sautéed kale, and whenever I see her preparing her greens, I think of this poem.

A. A. Milne, “The King’s Breakfast”: I’ve loved this one since I was a child, and truly sympathize with the plight of the king. Marmalade is charming to say and charming to eat, but it’s no substitute for butter, which as far as I’m concerned is the single greatest ingredient known to humankind.

Billy Collins, “Osso Bucco”: An ode to “the meat soft as the leg of an angel / who has lived a purely airborne existence” as well as a nod of recognition to the fact that poetry is often a “sanctuary of hunger and deprivation.”

Li Bai (also known as Li Bo, Li Po, 李白), “Drinking Alone With The Moon”: Just as a fine meal isn’t complete without wine, this list wouldn’t be complete without a wine-related poem. Li Bai is rumoured to have died when, in a moment of drunken passion, he fell into a river trying to embrace the moon. We at Hipster Kitchen recommend that you drink more moderately –– however, this poem is rather intoxicating, so proceed with caution.

Sylvia Plath, “Mushrooms”: Plath’s mushrooms narrate this poem as a collective, insisting in a spooky first person plural “We are shelves, we are / Tables, we are meek, / We are edible, / Nudgers and shovers / In spite of ourselves.” Personally, I find them best with a little truffle oil for extra flavor.

Mark Strand, “Eating Poetry”: There’s nothing like a spot of poetry for dessert.

Original Author: Clare Dougan