Archives for posts with tag: recipe

Image from the February 1912 issue of Pictorial Review, courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Preheat a deep pan of golden leaf.
In a large bowl split bitter chicory.
Lift out the notes that made sense
at the time. Turn up the heat.

When sulks and stews have almost evaporated,
You will have a sweet smelling slush.
Whizz to a powder, this interesting theme.
Return to the pan if you wish.

I was delighted to discover I am not the only creative to have derived inspiration from recipes. Yesterday, I was introduced to Leonard Bernstein’s “La Bonne Cuisine” (1947) on BBC Radio Three. Bernstein translated recipes from La Bonne Cuisine Française (by Emile Dutoit) and then scored them for voice and piano. The four pieces are Plum Pudding, Queues de Boeuf (Ox Tails), Tavouk Guenksis
and Civet à Toute Vitesse (Rabbit at Top Speed). They are most entertaining and worth a listen.

Here’s a clip of “La Bonne Cuisine – Four Recipes for Voice and Piano” being performed.

I tweet as @BeadedQuill about all manner of things that capture my imagination. BeadedQuill is also on Facebook.

Please also have a look at my latest book, In the Ocean: a year of poetry.


Using washed hands
soft in the palm, 
voluptuous, ivory nibs
since stripped of their brown seedcoat.
Blitz briefly
those gently ridged amygdalae
thrown by the precious palmful.
Blitz briefly those sweet, curved kernels.
Using floured hands 
sit finished dumplings on top.

Ah, almonds: sweetmeat
	of the fruit.

I love gathering words, sentences, phrases, formulations and expressions that take my fancy. Two chance readings contributed to this poem – recipe instructions and a definition of almonds as “the sweetmeat of the fruit”.

As I worked on this poem, I remembered that I had written about previously about almonds. The preparation of this fruit features in an earlier poem, “Van Riebeeck’s Hedge” (2008). This poem considers the mythical ‘hedge’ of wild almonds that acted as a boundary for the early Colony at the Cape. An entry in Governor Jan van Riebeeck’s diary dates the construction of the fortification to 1660. (“Van Riebeeck’s Hedge” is one of the selected poems in my first book, Shining in Brightness.) The wild almonds were bitter (apparently an indicator of the cyanide content of the fruit) and had to be “soak’d then peel’d before consum’d”. The poem sets the Dutch colonial settlers, planters of the hedge who dine off ‘fine’ plates, in contrast with the unnamed resident local Khoikhoi population at the Cape who eat these bitter fruits that have to be prepared.

Sweet almonds, either blanched or with their skins, are one of my favourite foods. In times when I was a more flush, they were a welcome snack. Now they are much more precious – sweet, ivory-coloured opals. I like to imagine this is a value more akin to that accorded to them in societies where almonds were more difficult to obtain. Almonds are not opal-shaped. More correctly, they are amygdala; their form rests somewhere between a triangle and an ellipse. It is also from amygdala that the name almond is derived.

(Note the recurrence of palm, which in the poem refers to the cupped, underside of the hand, but of course triggers the homophonic link to palm tree, and the imaginative landscape of such association.)

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Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness