Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sustenance and Desire: The Bloggy Feast

Our featured book this time round at Cook the Books has been "Sustenance and Desire: A Food Lover's Anthology of Sensuality and Humor", edited and illustrated by Bascove. This collection brings together poetry and prose by 74 different authors and it inspired the bloggers below to concoct a multi-course feast of words, photographs and foods.

Each of us was taken with a different aspect of the works from this anthology and I present this tasting menu below:


Rachel at The Crispy Cook loved the long poem "Hot", by the late Craig Arnold. "It's a long conversation between two friends who haven't seen each other in a while and had originally bonded over a love of spicy food. When the narrator arrives at his friend's house, he finds that his passion for peppers and food with heat has consumed him. He has parched lips, a haunted look and a fridge full of condiments. Here's the final stanza:

"He stops, expressing heat from every pore
of his full face, unable to give vent
   to any more, and sits, silent,
   a whole minute.—You understand?
Of course, I tell him. As he takes my hand
I can’t help but notice the strength his grip
   has lost, as he lifts it to his lip,
presses it for a second, the torn flesh
   as soft, as tenuous, as ash,
   not in the least harsh or rough,
wreck of a mouth, that couldn’t say enough."


George Bradley's poem "La Past'asciutta con quello che c'e" issued a siren song to Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The end result on her table? A comforting bowl of BLT Pasta, with the flavors of the classic sandwich echoed in the pasta sauce. Here's a snippet from Bradley's work: 

"Dried pasta's how a cook accommodates
 the facts.  No artist makes much out of his
dreams but makes the most of what there is."

This same literary piece inspired Simona of Briciole to try a new handmade pasta shape, small concave triangles dressed in butter and Parmigiana. As Simona notes, "Panda" means "handmade" in Italian, and her new pasta shape reminds her of a sitting panda bear, hence the double title. Be sure to check out the short video that Simona made for her post to illustrate her pasta making technique.


Claudia of Honey From Rock was inspired to create her own poem and an elegant salad of pigeon peas harvested from her Hawai'ian garden. Here's her lovely writing:

"I walked out into the garden this morning,
  Sun warming my head and arms,
And the green pigeon peas. 
A breath of legume scent teased out by that sun,
   Brought them to my attention.
Picked a handful, then two.
Dropped into boiling salted water
   For 10 minutes or so, cooled in a colander,
   Shelled -  lifted from their
 Plump nurturing pods, some
   Kissed a bit brown by that sun.
Suitable now for our salad,
Or pigeon peas 'n pasta
With basil and tomato" 


Chilean Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda was one of the three authors in this anthology given a double entry (Margaret Visser and Roy Blount, Jr. were the others)  and his poem "Ode to French Fries" captivated Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures. She created a Crunchy Onion Chicken Finger recipe to share billing on the menu with the spuds. The following is the last bit from Neruda's ode:

in ivory suits, they fill our plates
with repeated abundance, 
and the delicious simplicity of the soil."

"Creation Story" by American poet Natasha Saje sent Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla to her kitchen stove, where this sensual excerpt produced a vanilla-infused sauce for some beautiful braised duck:

Green pods are cured dark walnut brown.
Sliced open lengthwise: infinitesimal seeds,
printer's ink. Their black flecks ice cream
or a sauce for pheasant...
...From the Spanish vainilla,
diminutive of Latin, vagina,
the term for sheath."


Carol Weston's "My Life in Cookies" fueled Debra of Eliot's Eats' desire to try out the easy recipe for chocolate chip cookies included in this essay. It concludes with these sage lines:

"Mes amis, la vie est belle. And one of the great things about being a grown-up is that you can reach into the cookie jar and savor what's there"

Delaware Girl Eats also found inspiration in Weston's cookie essay and baked up a batch of Oatmeal Crispies. She agrees with Weston that cookies are like kittens, making people smile with their diminutive size and delightfulness.

The End of the Meal

Our culinary and literary sampling continues with a warm cup of Ana's Cinnamon Mocha Coffee, inspired by Langston Hughes' "Harlem Sweeties" poem. As Ana notes more fully on her blog Sweet Almond Tree, "Hughes is offering a hymn of praise to African Americans, and by extension to all people who show their courage by embracing their difference." Here's a Hughes extract:
"Glow of the quince   
To blush of the rose.   
Persimmon bronze   
To cinnamon toes.   
Blackberry cordial,   
Virginia Dare wine—
All those sweet colors   
Flavor Harlem of mine!"


Herbed Poached Egg and Tea 

Wrapping things up the next day, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen gives us a light morning meal based on Diane Wakoski's poem "Breakfast". This excerpt framed the creation of her repast:

"Alone, at the big table
  with my plate, my single
  herbed egg, a goblet of 
  iced water with a fresh sprig of mint
 also from the window garden,
  and my china cup of hot tea I sit
  in my morning kingdom."

That concludes this chapter of Cook the Books. Please note that this post was just a tasting menu and that the full feast of words and images is to be found back at each blogger's headquarters, so be sure to visit them all.

Deb of Kahakai Kitchen will be hosting the discussion of our February/March 2015 book selection, Ruth Reichl's memoir "Comfort Me with Apples". Hope to have you all back with us to dive into this tasty book!

Rachel, The Crispy Cook


Simona Carini said...

I love the way you presented the dishes, Rachel: we have a lovely meal and provisions for the morning after.
Thank you everybody for your contribution!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Wonderful job hosting this round Rachel--I loved the book and the different ways it inspired all of us.

I am proud to be the morning repast after that fabulous multi-course tasting dinner you presented. ;-)

Looking forward to reading everyone's posts.

Claudia said...

A complete feast, in every sense, and even the morning after to top it all off. Super job Rachel.

Lynne Rees said...

I've only recently discovered your blog - and so pleased I have! What great little tasters that I'm looking forward to enjoying more on the related blogs. And I hope to take part in the future too. All good wishes - Lynne (the hungry writer).

Debra Eliotseats said...

Rachel, thanks again for recommending this book and introducing me to a fabulous artist that is Bascove.

Debra Eliotseats said...

I am so excited. Bascove AND Carol Weston just dropped by EE. !!!!!!!!!!

Simona Carini said...

Congratulations, Debra!