Lately my reading tastes have expanded a bit. I have been reading more and more about food. Not necessarily cookbooks, but “food writing” as the section is labeled in the bookstores. I forget what the initial draw was to bring me to these shelves in the first place, but I have been the veritable kid in a kitchen store with the volumes I discover there. Food related essays, biographies, cultural anthropologies…numbers of which are in the public library! These have engaged my senses in ways that little other literature recently has (poetry excepted). It has been a delight to introduce my palate to differently spiced paragraphs and see sentences laid out on the table, glistening, crunching, tempting, inviting.
With that as context…
I had time to think on the train today and was biding time by imagining what authors of any genre would go with the different parts of a meal. I’d begin the meal with a half glass of Hafiz to perk the palate with his unique, champagne-lively, unashamedly passionate poetry. Salad—this would be a reading from a Doris Kearns Goodwin history tome—Either Team of Rivals or No Ordinary Time. Crunchy, textured, thoughtful, tangy… Soup? Something from Butler’s Lives of the Saints. Moving from here into the main course—Wallace Stegner, I think. Definitely the texture of a finely marbled steak—something to slice into and chew. Or, perhaps, Jane Smiley—more like a well turned out chicken dish that treats you to beauty, subtle flavor, and thankfulness for the utter chicken-y-ness of what you are eating. Dorothy L. Sayers would be good here too. A loaf of Thurber or Twain on the table for a break…crusty, filling, fragrant, utterly enjoyable and wide in scope/topic—goes with almost anything. Post dinner liquer—a little sip of Dorothy Parker or Edna St. Vincent Millay. Dessert- a reading from Song of Songs. Followed by a demitasse of Pablo Neruda—lovely, deep, and satisfying…that brings everything together.
And later on, I’d probably sneak a spoonful of Ogden Nash out of the carton in the freezer.
Happy New Year, folks. May the year be filled with grace upon grace…
Ah, Edna.... good to be reminded of her sonnets, their dear desperation, their utter sweetness....
Ah, yes! Here is one of my favorites...
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart, -- Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, -- let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
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