KITCHEN POETS – PART 8

KITCHEN POETS
PART 8

While searching for Edgar Guest’s kitchen poem about lemon pie, I happened to come across another Guest food-theme poem for sausage:

You may brag about your breakfast foods you eat at break of day,
Your crisp, delightful shavings and your stack of last year’s hay,
Your toasted flakes of rye and corn that fairly swim in cream,
Or rave about a sawdust mash, an epicurean dream.
But none of these appeals to me though all of them I’ve tried—
The breakfast that I liked the best was sausage mother fried.

Old country sausage was its name, the kind, of course, you know,
The little links that seemed to be almost as white as snow,
But turned into a ruddy brown, while sizzling in the pan;
Oh, they were made both to appease and charm the inner man.
All these new-fangled dishes make me blush and turn aside,
When I think about the sausage that for breakfast mother fried.

When they roused me from my slumbers and I left to do the chores,
It wasn’t long before I breathed fragrance out of doors
That seemed to grip my spirit, and to thrill my body through,
For the spice of hunger tingled, and ‘twas then I plainly knew
That the gnawing of my stomach would be quickly satisfied
By a plate of country sausage that my dear old mother fried.

There upon the kitchen table, with its cloth of turkey red,
Was a platter heaped with sausage and a plate of home-made bread,
And a cup of coffee waiting—not a puny demitasse
That can scarcely hold a mouthful, but a cup of greater class;
And I fell to eating largely, for I could not be denied—
Oh, I’m sure a king would relish the sausage mother fried.

Times have changed and so have breakfasts, now each morning when I see
A dish of shredded something or of flakes passed up to me,
All my thoughts go back to boyhood, to the days of long ago,
When the morning meal meant something more than vain and idle show.
And I hunger, Oh, I hunger, in a way I cannot hide,
For a plate of steaming sausage like the kind my mother fried.
**
Sometimes food poetry turns up in the most unexpected places. I found the following in “Threadgill’s – The Cookbook” –

HOMEGROWN TOMATOES
By Guy Clark

Ain’t nothing in the world that I like better
Than bacon and lettuce and homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin’ out in the garden
Get you a ripe ‘un don’t get a hard one
Plant ‘em in the spring eat ‘em in the summer
All winter without ‘em’s a culinary bummer
I forget alla bout the sweatin and digging
Evertime I go out and pick me a big one.

CHORUS
Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes
Wha’d life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things money can’t buy
That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes

I’ve been out to eat and that’s for sure
But it’s nothin’ a homegrown tomato won’t cure
Put ‘em in a salad put ‘em in a stew
You can make your very own tomato juice
Eat ‘em with eggs eat ‘em with gravy
Eat ‘em with beans pinto or navy
Put ‘em on the side put ‘em in the middle
Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle

If I’s to change this life that I lead
I’d be Johnny Tomato seed
‘Cause I know that this country needs
homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see
when I die don’t bury me
in a box in a cemetery
out in the garden would be much better
I could be pushing up homegrown tomatoes.

While on the subject of tomatoes, I wrote the following:

TOMATOES

The adjectives that describe a tomato
Are, I’m inclined to suspect,
The type to conjure
Thoughts quite impure—
And probably quite circumspect;
For, is it her fault
To be luscious and round
And soft to a finger’s light press?
And would she have chosen
If choices were given,
To wear such a flaming red dress?
It seems quite unjust,
And so I trust,
You’ll pardon my faith in believing
The tomato as chaste
And not out of grace—
(appearances can be deceiving).
— Sandra Lee Smith

The following four lines are from the poet Robert Burns and this has appeared in countless church or community cookbooks:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some would eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

And of beverages, limerick writer Langford Reed wrote:

There was a young lady of Lynn
Who was uncommonly thin
That when she essayed
To drink lemonade
She slipped through the straw and fell in.
**
And famed author Robert Louis Stevenson wrote:

And I, being provided thus,
Shall with superb asparagus,
A book, a taper, and a cup
Of country wine, divinely sup.
**

And from anonymous in the cookbook “Add a Pinch of Pizzazz”, from the Assistant League of South Carolina – short and to the point:

Between almonds and fudge
I can’t judge,
But it makes me wince
If you forget the mints.
**
Possibly from the same cookbook, I’m not sure—also from anonymous – is this short verse about cookies:

The British call it biscuit
And it’s koekje with the Dutch
But no matter how you say it
All cookies please us much.

Poet Eugene Field wrote the following about apple pie and cheese…incidentally, he lived from 1850 to 1895, therefore was only 45 years old when he died. He wrote a lot of poetry for children and as known as “the children’s poet” – but luckily for us, he liked to write poems about food, too:

APPLE PIE AND CHEESE

Full many a sinful notion
Conceived of foreign powers
Has come across the ocean
To harm this land of ours;
And heresies called fashions
Have modestly effaced,
And baleful morbid passions
Corrupt our native taste.
O tempora! O mores!
What profanations these
That seek to dim the glories
Of apple-pie and cheese!

I’m glad my education
Enables me to stand
Against the vile temptation
Held out on every hand;
Eschewing all the tittles
With vanity replete,
I’m loyal to the victuals
Our grandsires used to eat!
I’m glad I’ve got three willing boys
To hang around and tease
Their mother for the filling joys
Of apple-pie and cheese!

Your flavored creams and ices
And your dainty angel-food
Are mighty fine devices
To regale the dainty dude;
Your terrapin and oysters,
With wine to wash ‘em down,
Are just the thing for roisters
When painting of the town;
No flippant, sugared notion
Shall my appetite appease,
Or bate my soul’s devotion
To apple-pie and cheese!

The pie my Julia makes me
(God bless her Yankee ways!)
On memory’s pinions takes me
To dear Green Mountain days;
And seems like I see Mother
Lean on the window-sill,
A-handin’ me and brother
What she knows’ll keep us still;
And these feelings are so grateful,
Says I, “Julia, if you please,
I’ll take another plateful
Of that apple-pie and cheese!”

And cheese! No alien it, sir,
That’s brought across the sea, –
No Dutch antique, nor Switzer,
Nor glutinous de Brie;
There’s nothing I abhor so
As mawmets of this ilk –
Give me the harmless morceau
That’s made of true-blue milk!
No matter what conditions
Dyspeptic come to feaze,
The best of all physicians
Is apple-pie and cheese!

Though ribalds may decry ‘em,
For these twin boons we stand,
Partaking thrice per diem
Of their fulness out of hand;
No enervating fashion
Shall cheat us of our right
To gratify our passion
With a mouthful at a bite!
We’ll cut it square or bias,
Or any way we please,
And faith shall justify us
When we carve our pie and cheese!

De gustibus, ’tis stated,
Non disputandum est.
Which meaneth, when translated,
That all is for the best.
So let the foolish choose ‘em
The vapid sweets of sin,
I will not disabuse ‘em
Of the heresy they’re in;
But I, when I undress me
Each night upon my knees
Will ask the Lord to bless me
With apple-pie and cheese!

Sandy’s Cooknote: Eugene was also a wordy poet. And I’m guessing you know it. Also discovered that Eugene wrote 15,000 poems – one a day from 1916 to 1959!
**
Eugene Field also wrote a long poem about roast beef—I have seen just a few lines from this poem and the last four lines of apple-pie and cheese quoted in other cookbooks but had to do some research to find the entire poem. Here, then, is what Mr. Field had to say about:

RARE ROAST BEEF

When the numerous distempers to which all flesh is heir
Torment us till our very souls are reeking with despair;
When that monster fiend, Dyspepsy, rears its spectral hydra head,
Filling bon vivants and epicures with certain nameless dread;
When any ill of body or intellect abounds,
Be it sickness known to Galen or disease unknown to Lowndes, –
In such a dire emergency it is my firm belief
That there is no diet quite so good as rare roast beef.

And even when the body’s in the very prime of health,
When sweet contentment spreads upon the cheeks her rosy wealth,
And when a man devours three meals per day and pines for more,
And growls because instead of three square meals there are not four, –
Well, even then, though cake and pie do service on the side,
And coffee is a luxury that may not be denied,
Still of the many viands there is one that’s hailed as chief,
And that, as you are well aware, is rare roast beef.

Some like the sirloin, but I think the porterhouse is best, –
‘T’ is juicier and tenderer and meatier than the rest;
Put on this roast a dash of salt, and then of water pour
Into the sizzling dripping-pan a cupful, and no more;
The oven being hot, the roast will cook in half an hour,
Then to the juices in the pan you add a little flour,
And so you get a gravy that is called the cap sheaf
Of that glorious summum bonum, rare roast beef.

Served on a platter that is hot, and carved with thin, keen knife,
How does the savory viand enhance the worth of life!
Give me no thin and shadowy slice, but a thick and steaming slab, –
Who would not choose a generous hunk to a bloodless little dab?
Upon a nice hot plate how does the juicy morceau steam,
A symphony in scarlet or a red incarnate dream!
Take from me eyes and ears and all, O Time, thou ruthless thief!
Except these teeth wherewith to deal with rare roast beef.

Most every kind and role of modern victuals have I tried,
Including roasted, fricasseed, broiled, toasted, stewed, and fried,
Your canvasbacks and papa-bottes and mutton-chops subese,
Your patties à la Turkey and your doughnuts à la grease;
I’ve whiled away dyspeptic hours with crabs in marble halls,
And in the lowly cottage I’ve experienced codfish balls;
But I’ve never found a viand that could so allay all grief
And soothe the cockles of the heart as rare roast beef.

I honor that sagacious king who, in a grateful mood,
Knighted the savory loin that on the royal table stood;
And as for me I’d ask no better friend than this good roast,
Which is my squeamish stomach’s fortress (feste Burg) and host;
For with this ally with me I can mock Dyspepsy’s wrath,
Can I pursue the joy of Wisdom’s pleasant, peaceful path.
So I do off my vest and let my waistband out a reef
When I soever set me down to rare roast beef.
**
Madeleine Coulter is or was a poet who provided many chapter headings for a cookbook
I believe I copied the pages myself, but don’t remember what cookbook I found them in. For Appetizers, Ms. Coulter wrote;

O me, O my, I vainly try,
To cook a roast or bake a pie,
But my poor man, the patient dear,
Regards his plate with gloom and fear,
Grows weak and wan with every chew,
And sadly murmurs, “No can do.”
So to this cook book I’ll repair,
Where generous souls their secrets share,
I’ll hunt a recipe with zest,
And choose the one that sounds the best,
And then my spouse will beam and co,
And shout a hearty,”Yes, can do!”
**
In the following chapter for Salad Dressing, Madeleine Coulter wrote the following which is really about herbs;

How like music to the ear
Are the fragrant herbs of kitchen cheer
Romantic names, how they abound
In magic spells of taste and sound!
A charming girl is Rosemary,
Sweet and sharp and full of glee,
And Marjoram, good in everything,
Is a name you’d like to sing;
Savory, a laughing child,
Adds to meat its flavor mild;
Sage, a very sturdy boy,
For fowl and sausage we employ;
Basil, a famous aristocrat,
Gives cheese and sauces much éclat;
Chervil and Parsley, sisters, fair,
Are dainty things for dishes rare;
And Tarragon, decided, fresh,
For salad-dressings and fish, I guess;
Thyme, a pungent vigorous soul,
Adds wit and zest to many a bowl;
Cheives and Bay, how good are they,
For stews and salads every day!
A lovely family, for every mood,
They bring romance to all our food.

Of Salads, however, poet Mortimer Callins wrote

Cool in the summer is salad,
And warm in the winter is love;
And a poet shall sing you a ballad
Delicious thereon and thereof.
**
Madeleine Coulter also wrote the following in the Salads Chapter:

When tomato, blushing red,
Is with the avocado wed,
Take endive, lettuce, chicory, cress,
For a fringy, lacy dress,
The ardent pimiento place
Beside pale celery’s frosty face,
Anoint with oil and lemon sparsely,
And deck them all with sprigs of parsley.

Sandy’s Cooknote: I know these poems by Madeleine Coulter are from an old church or club cookbook—the reference to avocado makes me wonder if it might have been from an old cookbook published in California—you seldom read anything about avocado in old cookbooks published elsewhere in the USA. Well, don’t quote me on this – it’s a guess.

From the same cookbook under the heading for Frostings and Fillings, signed only “A Mother” is the following sweet poem:

I like it fine when Mother
Decides to bake a cake
I beat her to the kitchen
And follow in her wake.

It’s not so much the mystery
Of the mixing of the batter
Nor the greasing of the cake pan
That makes the greatest matter.

It’s when the cake is covered
With a frosting brown and tan
And mother smiles and says to me
Now you may lick the pan.

END OF PART 8

11 responses to “KITCHEN POETS – PART 8

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