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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Write With Me: "Recipe as a Poem" Challenge!

My friend, Jeremy Salamon, of Jeremy Cooks, called with a request. He asked if I would like to participate in a recipe poem challenge. Jeremy has been a summer intern for both Teen-Chef and Kid-Chef programs at C'est si Bon! for about five years now. His other "day" jobs include being a senior in Boca Raton, Florida, maintaining a blog that offers recipes, videos of cooking with friends, interviews he's done with Famous Chefs (think the likes of Jamie and Giada) and then there's his three to four day a week stint in the kitchen of a local French Restaurant. As if that wasn't enough, Jeremy is working on a Memoir that chronicles his dream of becoming a Chef; from age 9 (which he announced from the back seat of the car to his astonished parents) till he graduates and heads to the Culinary Institute of America. Needless to see Jeremy has already carved out 
quite a little Chef-dom of his own. 

Jeremy and Dorette, 2008

Both of us also being writers, I thought the Poem Challenge sounded like great fun. It might exemplify the crazy action in the kitchen. Writing recipes in the "cookbook linear" fashion requires the chef to primarily use one side of the brain to follow certain rules. Ingredients must appear in the order they are used, and steps must logically dole out and explain the how (and not as often the why, that must appear in the heading notes) of the cooking technique to be carried out. A lot of this writing recipes has changed over the thirty some years I have been a chef. One cannot use technique terms willy nilly because not as many people know what it means to saute

Jeremy at the ACF Student-Chef Competition in Atlanta, 2011

One important detail is that according to recipe writers; those people who test recipes, magazine article writer people or ghostwriters - who couldn't have fun with a story about a ghostwriter and a chef, but that's another story - they wince and complain that Chefs are the worst recipe writers in the world. That is true. 

But what if, as Jeremy proposed, a recipe was written like a poem? Each ingredient rhymes and folds intuitively towards the next step. And how could it not happen that the poem tells more than mere ingredients? Through the lines and rhymes, a story intertwines. Whether the story is inspired by imagination or a first hand experience. I was honored to be approached by Jeremy, and as often happened in the kitchen while we were cooking, that an idea becomes a delicious dish with no recipe in sight. 

Starting today, you (our loyal readers) can participate in the Recipe Rhyme challenge. By September 25th we are asking for a submission of your recipe in the form of a poem. Here are the guidelines

   Use as many words and stanzas as it takes
   It can be of any length
   The recipe can be yours, from a book, tv, or online
   It can be in the form of a traditional poem, haiku,soliloquy, sonnet, ballad, prose you name it!
   Please provide a title and your name
   If you are able to, we would love to see pictures along with the poem
   Measurements are not required. We should be able to interpret what your making.

You may submit your poem through email here at Planting Cabbages or at
Below is my example of a recipe rhyme. You can also find Jeremy's example on his blog as well.

The three most outstanding poems will be featured on both Planting Cabbages and JeremyCooks. Remember submissions are due September 25th so start your stoves and get rhyming!

If you have questions please feel free to email me or Jeremy.   

Shadow Snover

For Shadow, Who Loved Chutney on Meatloaf

Thought I would put them all in a pot
Turn on the heat and get what I got.
Alice said no, why don’t I come over?
It’ll be you and me and the Shadow of Snover.
Why we’ll have a fine time,
Making a chutney of ginger and apples and lime.

Up with the crack, we know it as dawn
Sprint from the house, across the lawn.
It’s darker than coffee, there’s got to be time
Alice is coming, but not before 9.
My plan is no secret, at least not to me.
I’d like to be done, by a quarter to three.
Done with the burbling, done with the bubbling,
Done with the canning, that part is so troubling.

One Apple, Many Leaves

Two fawns and a buck cross the stone patio. Boo.
Looking for grass and perhaps tomatoes x 2.

The door slides wide open. I enter the school
Without turning on the light, and trip over a stool
Perched on the shelves, only now waking,
Pots and bowls and vinegar, shaking.

Back to the house, back to the kitchen
My arms loaded down, while my nose starts an itchin’.

Too many things swirling about in my mind
Now what did I do with that ginger and lime?

My upturned apron turns them all out
"Only 8 twenty five," to my Shadow I shout.
Onto the counter goes allspice with lemons.
Mustard seeds, garlic and onions, oh heavens.

So Many Apples

My back to the window, so I can stay busy.
Fingers on lemons, can fingers get dizzy?
Halve all the limes, Off with their zest
“This mise is all wrong,” I sing to Shadow in jest.

But she only lay quiet, and carefully watching.
"What do you care, you are alone.
Without even a turkey, a ham or a bone."

"But Shadow!" I cried to my hound of reknown,
"There’s meatloaf for dinner, and rice that is brown."

She perked right up at the mention of meat
While the apple under my knife, escaped to my feet.
A paper towel flew to the cut oh so deep.

Alice where are you?” but there was no peep.

The deer looked up when to the school, back I went.
For aids of the band type, but you know what I meant.

A glove over my thumb, I’m a Tom Robbins cowgirl
Should I hit the road, go in search of a world
Where chutney is made only on Monday
With apples of Eve, and apples of Adam
And 50 more apples (still) than I can fathom
Apples with spots, apples with blotches
That quarter and core as easy as squashes.

Shadow lay back dreaming of dinner
While I got fat and she only got thinner.
Black Seeds from the cores getting lost in my hair,
In my nose and eyelashes, and everywhere
An earwig in the bowl makes me all twitchy,
It drops to the floor and gets squished in the kitchy.

Cayenne Peppers, Not in the Poem but in the Chutney 

The hand of ginger, all shiny and glossy
Says “now put me in.” Why are spices so bossy?

Just as the pestle grinds the coriander.
Who should to the kitchen, at long last just wander.

“Hey Alice” I cried – and the chutney so chimed,
My hound, Shadow, yawned, smiled, and added a rhyme.

Seared Chicken with Chutney and Okra, Over Sweet Potatoes

"How often do we make jam out of ginger
And spend the day chopping and topping off fingers
With band-aids while mustard seeds
Roll on the floor."
Not very often.
And not any more.

Sunset Over Lake Hogan on September 9

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