(Late) Summer Salad: A Celebration of Literature and Food

photo by photon_de
Last Saturday the fabulous Politics and Prose bookstore hosted a celebration of Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal, a scrumptious new anthology of literary writings about food. 

The event featured readings of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction:

Karen Leona Anderson, E. J. Levy, Jennifer Cognard-Black, Howard Dinin, Melissa Goldthwaite, me,  and Paul Hanstedt.
Of course there was fabulous food on hand--all of it inspired by contributions to Books that Cook.  I was thrilled to taste Full Moon Soup, deliciously recreated by Lisa Kelley of Canards' Catering, from the recipe embedded in my own poem of the same title.  It isn't every day that a poet gets to eat her own lovingly recreated words...to absorb them, in the words of volume co-editor Melissa Goldthwaite, "at the cellular level." But now I'm convinced every poet should get the chance at least once.

Some gorgeous baguettes, glimpsed at the Little Red Fox Market and Coffee Shop in Chevy Chase

So in celebration of a lovely late summer day, and of the last of summer's precious garden tomatoes, I'm sharing this tasty poem by Melissa:

Summer Salad

On this morning of neglected pruning,
lopped and tumbling apple branches,
tiny green fists of fruit falling
to my feet, I breathe the air

thick with moisture, the scent
of just-mowed timothy
and clover rising, the throng
of mud-common chores crowding

my thoughts: more pruning, watering,
mowing, hauling.  Last year's
wind-blown birch, cut and stacked,
still needs cover.  The woodshed

nearly empty whispers dark
warnings of winter's freeze
and crunch, as certain as these
heat and swelter days of ripe

tomatoes and the sweet first ears of
corn.  Skin sweat-slick, palms blister
red.  I drop the pole pruner,
drag branches to the burn pile,

ache for the kitchen tile
cool balm underfoot, imagine
trading this plodding and pruning
for a dish of summer's abundance:

avocados wedged, kernels from the cob,
black beans, dice of tomato
and red onion with chopped parsley,
mixed and drizzled with a dressing

of whisked vinegar and oil, minced garlic,
a touch of cumin, salt and pepper all to taste,
to taste this living season: labor and heat
transformed in a bowl, beautiful and blue.


Oh, and the next stop on the Books That Cook tour will be New York University!  If you happen to be nearby, please join us.


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