ISSUE TEN Summer 2010
Alimentum Poetry Contest winners; interview with New York Times food columnist John T. Edge; new poems by Mark Kurlansky and Donald Newlove; Anthony Di Renzo’s Bitter Greens, an homage to broccoli rabe; Marilyn Murphy’s cover art Sweet or Savory?; illustrations by Maria Carluccio; Antonio Aiello’s Bi Bim, a story around the kitchen with American parents and Korean kids...
Plus: a boy is mesmerized by cheese puffs, a woman must choose between delicious and religious, a girl insists the moon is an outdoor sandwich, a ship’s chef creates a scandal with chocolate chicken, a chicken-dripping delivery man haunts a city, a woman remembers her dad through his love of yoghurt, and much more...30 writers and poets in all!
Issue Ten excerpts...
From Bitter Greens by Anthony Di Renzo
Mamma apologized for not adding sausage, but the greens, I assured between bites, were perfect. The coarse sea salt, crushed garlic cloves, and hot pepper flakes made their sharp bitterness sublime. Mamma wiped my grateful tears with her apron.
“God, I love bitter greens!” I cried.
“You’d better,” Mamma said. “Sometimes that’s all life puts on our plate.”
Broccoli rabe is Italian soul food, guinea collards. Since classical times, this bitter green has sustained and defined the dispossessed of the Mezzogiorno. But for Americans raised on steamed broccoli and triumphalism, broccoli rabe is swamp weed. Whenever I serve it as a contorno, or side dish, white-bread dinner guests blink, stare, or grimace. The more polite will chew and smile, until my attention is distracted, and then spit the pulpy mess into a napkin. Bland food feeds complacency; but a bitter taste, like a bitter emotion, requires painful reconciliation.
From Water of Life by Catherine Freeling
A man bicycles
along a road in France. His eye is hurt
by some terrible brightness.
He stops to investigate.
In the garden of a falling-down house
a pear tree wears
a hundred shining bottles
and inside each one,
clinging to the glass,
are water drops.
From Separatists by André Narbonne
The captain lifted the lid on the large pot of supper warming on the stove. The distinct and separate odors of cocoa and chicken rose to greet him. His face flushed red. He gasped, “How dare you?”
Yes, Marc thought, dare, that’s the word, although it hadn’t struck him as daring at the time.
“What sort of a man,” and he stressed the word man, “would serve this sort of...of...concoction to...to...” Philpot had run into a curious problem. He had made a career of performing anger to keep himself separate from the crew and now that he was truly outraged he could not frame his emotions into speech. “What do you mean by this?” he settled on, the voice of Charles Laughton speaking in his ear and, perhaps, out of his mouth.
From Cheese Puffs by Aaron Frankel Mayer
“I didn’t know you liked cheese puffs.” My mother glanced at me in the sun guard mirror. “Are they kosher?”
“Let me see those.” My father reached over the seat, grabbed the bag from me, and peered at the label. “They have gelatin,” he said. “Gelatin isn’t kosher. You need to read the label, Daniel.” He opened his window and tossed the bag at a garbage can next to the newspaper boxes, a perfect shot, like into a bucket on Bozo’s circus. I stared at the garbage can, aching for my cheese puffs, as the car cruised back onto the wide, gray highway toward Detroit.
“I want my cheese puffs!” I said. I don’t know what came over me. This wasn’t at all like me. It wasn’t the way I talked.
From Bi Bim by Antonio Aiello
Then one night when we were out for Korean food in Flushing, we had an “aha” moment of our own. As Henry munched on salted sardines, and threw his milk on the floor in a semi-psychotic dance of repetition with the nice waitress who kept picking it up, we realized he was absorbing a little culture. He was comfortable in the Korean restaurant, comfortable eating bi bim bap, bulgogi, and mandu. He was comfortable obsessing about the Korean drums hanging on the walls, and the Korean garden in back. He was the only one-year-old we knew who ate both wild mushroom risotto and salted sardines. He was absorbing a mixed culture created by our family. Maybe we could loosen up and take cues from Henry. Maybe we could lay the foundation for him and build on it together. Instead of having his culture and ours, we could emphasize a family culture that encompassed both and was based on things we all loved. Henry was an eater. Food could be our first cornerstone. It already was for Alison and me. Over time, his love for Korean food could broaden to other things Korean the way mine had for things Italian.