Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Shockingly Modern 600-Year-Old Poem, by Hafiz

Sharing this timeless poem, published most recently in Harper's. Not only is Mookie's Food Odyssey about food, it's also a way to demonstrate my commitment to reading and thinking about the written word, so that shortly after I'm finished with school I can get a related job, thereby feeding myself, thereby filling my soul. 

I'm delighted to now know Hafiz's work, copied below. Writers and scholars, I think, often worry that the works closest to their own hearts will degrade in meaning over time. Hafiz can rest assured we get him here, as if he wrote yesterday and not over 600 years ago. "Untitled" is succinct and accessible--the best kind of poetry.

I appreciate that he gives books lives, human qualities. His use of the word "square" is so close to the more modern way in which we might insult boring people that's it's uncanny. That's my read, at least.


Untitled Poem

by Hafiz (Persian, c. 1320-89)

All I want to do
is get drunk with my wife

An endless glass of wine
both of us on the floor

So what if squares
Look down on us?

Boring and misguided
are their miserable lives

When my wife is in the city
and I'm home
I want to cry

The moonlight
on the cypress tree
is a bitter light

No book has ever kissed me
like she does

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Central Valley Meat Co. and School Lunches

North Bay Cow
I saw this cow a few years ago while hiking with friends.
If you live in California you may already know about the elitism: many San Franciscans–and North-Bay dwellers as well, thumb their noses at the much muggier Central Valley where this cow, I might add, was lucky not to live.

I missed last summer's Huffington Post story on the closure and re-opening of Central Valley Meat Company after its employees were caught on video abusing dairy cows. Clients CostCo, McDonalds and In-N-Out Burger suspended or cancelled their contracts.

Perhaps the most important purchaser of meat from this company was the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which later renewed its contract.

The plant's temporary closure affected some 450 people, a small number compared to the nation's fast-food patronage and consumers of NSLP.

An equally provocative story: At the start of the school year at Moss Bluff Elementary in Lake Charles, Louisiana, school administration announced a plan to expedite the lunch line by scanning student's palms. The school of over 1,000 students had had some complaints about student's being charged but not eating lunch. The scanner would act as proof either way and was entirely optional.

Some parents called it the mark of the devil, so I'm not sure where things stand.

Friday, March 15, 2013

So That Your Coffee Will Remind You of New Orleans

I've normally gone straight to the source for my coffee with chicory (CDM and Cafe Du Monde are good brands) but I figured it might be nice to manually combine the two things at home.

Here are a few fun facts about chicory, which may or not be news to you:
*It's a perennial plant that's been grown for centuries
*Cultivated much like sugar beets; also used in salads
*Economical–let's you brew half the normal amount of coffee
*Imbues coffee with a mellowness and accentuates the aroma

How to Add Chicory to Coffee 

Use half your usual amount of coffee grounds. For example, if you typically make 8 cups of coffee using 8 tablespoons of ground coffee, use only 4 tablespoons.

*Add the same amount of ground roasted chicory.
*Pour the full amount of water needed into the well of your coffee maker. For example, if you added 4 tablespoons of coffee and 4 tablespoons of chicory, add 8 cups water.
*Brew as usual.
Visit the Cajun Connection's site for chicory extract and chicory milk recipes. New Orleans Coffee delves into the history of chicory use. Interesting stuff.

Looking for chicory in San Francisco? Try Rainbow Grocery or San Francisco Herb Company. Back soon with more East Bay leads.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Williams Carlos Williams from 'Spring and All'

Chapter I
Samuel Butler

The farmer in deep thought
is pacing through the rain
among his blank fields, with
hands in pockets,
in his head
the harvest already planted.
A cold wind ruffles the water
among the brown weeds.
On all sides
the world rolls coldly away:
black orchards
darkened by March clouds–
leaving room for thought.
Down past the brushwood
bristling by
the rain sluiced wagonroad
looms the artist figure
of the farmer–composing–

I imagine a poem written from margin to margin down the page like a block and I can't abide it. With this poem, it's as if the words themselves ask us to re-imagine a certain familiar landscape.

What I love most about this particular William Carlos Williams poem is the alliteration and accessible imagery.

On all sides
the world rolls coldly away

black orchards 
darkened by March clouds–leaving room for thought

This is exactly the kind of poem that begs to be read, even by the non-poetry lover. The words are so simple yet so packed.

The collection 'Spring and All' was published in 1923 the year after T.S. Eliot's The Waste Landone of the most important poems of all time. Of note, William Carlos Williams translated some of Pablo Neruda's poetry into English.


Late Night of Vegetables and Folk Music II

Well, that was a rude awakening. I'd just published a post about mistaking late night Guerilla Organics deliverers for car thieves–for no good reason–and I also shared a cute vegetable song, but my original words are all gone now.

Google Blogger warned me that I had faulty HTML but I didn't know it was a fatal error and I was allowed to ignore the warning. Reminder noted: always save blogs into Word documents as well. First. Save them first.

The most important thing about my post is not my backstory about vegetable delivery. It's Steve Goodman's song, "The Vegetable Song (Barnyard Dance)". My babysitter sang it to me when I was a young girl. It's a good thing to teach the wee ones and you'll love it, too.

If his voice sounds familiar it's because he also sang "City of New Orleans." I get teary eyed when I hear him.

Enjoy your night, your vegetables and your folk music. I will enjoy my CTRL + S.

Lyrics to "The Vegetable Song"
by Steve Goodman

It was late one night by the pale moonlight
All the vegetables gave a spree.
They put out a sign that said, "The dancing's at nine"
And all the admissions were free.

There was peas and greens and cabbage and beans,
It was the biggest crowd you ever did see.
And when old man cucumber struck up that number
Well, you should have heard those vegetables scream.

Oh, the little turnip top was doin' the backwards flop,
The cabbage shook the shimmy and she could not stop.
The little red beet shook its feet,
The watermelon died of the cockeyed heat.

The little tomato, agitator,
Shook the shimmy with the sweet potato,
And old man garlic dropped dead of the colic
Down at the barnyard dance, this morning,
Down at the barnyard dance.

Oh the little turnip top was doin' the backwards flop,
The cabbage shook the shimmy, would not stop
The little red beet shook its feet,
The watermelon died of the cockeyed heat.

Little tomato, agitator,
Shook the shimmy with the sweet potato,
And old man garlic dropped dead of the colic
Down at the barnyard dance, this morning.

Down at the barnyard, late this morning.
Down at the barnyard dance.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Let Go and Let Goat Cheese Salad

The term "Let go and Let God" doesn't fit when you hear a friend of a friend has cancer again. He's a loving husband and the father of a toddler. And so many other wonderful things.

Some people summon their faith, first; my childlike sense of humor summons me.

Let Go and Let Goat Cheese Salad
1/4 c. pecan halves or pieces
1/2 c. cranberries
2 medium apples
About 3 cups Spring mix
-baby lettuces, greens and radicchio-
goat cheese
balsamic vinaigrette dressing

*Toast the pecan halves in a frying pan–no butter–or in an oven @ 350 degrees until aromatic. Takes about a minute in a frying pan, and about 5 in a toaster oven. Set aside.

*Place 3 cups of Spring mix in a large bowl, careful to evenly distribute the various greens.

*Peel, core and chop the apples into bite-sized pieces.

*Mix pecans, cranberries, and apples with your greens, and finally toss with salad dressing and top with goat cheese.

A great appetizer for two.

Let Go and Let Goat Cheese Salad

Optional: My friend often sprinkles cooked rice pilaf on top of her salad. It's delicious and keeps you full longer.

Don't skimp on the goat cheese!
It has less fat and calories than cheese made from cow's milk. I also learned that like other cheese, it contains tryptophan. (And I thought it was the turkey's fault I fell asleep at the table.)

But do you have to peel the apple?
Though the skin has some nutrients the fruit doesn't, you still should peel it. Some supermarkets coat fruit in wax. Also, apple skin contains a fair amount of insoluble fiber that's hard to digest.

For me, the final so-what about this salad is that after I tossed in the dried cranberries, I noticed on the non-organic Ocean Spray packaging that my berries are infused with pomegranate flavor.

It's been said that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate, and not an apple. Though it's different from faith, a little mystery goes a long way.

Eating to live is good, I say! Eating to learn works, too.


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