Recipe Poems

A Conjuring by A Conjuring

Grandmother's Bread by Wilda Morris

Raspberry Mousse; or, Wherein I Unwittingly Assist My Ex-husband, Who, On Behalf of our Son, Prepares My Mother's Day Dessert by Joanie DiMartino

Deconstructing Chicken by Adina Cassal

Collage by Lisa Mase

Foraging by Carolyn Wells

The Baker by Janine Certo

A Poem That Wants to Call Itself a Recipe by Jax Peters Lowell

Corn Chowder by Penny Baert Zywusko

Kugel by Sharon Lask Munson

Muffin of the Morning by James B. Nicola

simplicity by Lois Baer Barr

Recipe for Disaster by Jonathan Pacic

Affogato by Lettie

Fall Harvest by Holly Mitchell

The Apple by Kerry Ruef

Brunswick Stew by Lyle Estill

Two Poems by Brenda Butka

Bread by Eva Szabo

Squash Blossoms by Allison Wilkins

Our Table by Joan Seliger Sidney

Recipe for Spaghetti all'Amatriciana by Georganne Harmon

The Agony of the Leaves by Gail Bellamy

Greens by Paulette Licitra

Strudel by Eva Szabo

The Almost Adulterer's Guide to Menu Planning by Michele Battiste

The Pie Series by David Colagiovanni, Melissa Haviland, and Becca J.R. Lachman

Midsummer's Night's Spaghetti with Saffron by Johannes Berchtold

A Cannibal's Suicide by Dean Kostos

From the Garden by Nancy Vienneau

orang slizez jell o shotz by Amy Stetzl

Phở bò Hà Nội by Kelly Morse

Cooking Class, Marrakesh by Georganne Harmon

Spread Triolet by Dana Stamps

The Things Kids Eat by Paulette Licitra

Maybe This Year by Esther Cohen

Braociole by Joseph Bathanti

Basque Cooking by Richard Hedderman

Two Poems by Adrienne Christian

Jailhouse Crack by Harlan Richards

Cinnamon Sticks by Wally Swist

Best of Both by Nancy Vienneau

A Midsummer Night’s Spaghetti with Saffron

by Johannes Berchtold

“The course of a true love never did run smooth.”
            - A Midsummer Night’s Dream

September 2013

Though Shakespeare often, ah, borrowed the basis for his recipes every so often he came up with something completely different. His immensely popular Midsummer Spaghetti is one of those original dishes. It’s been rumored that he got the idea after attending a wedding in Greece at which peculiar homegrown ouzo was served, but Shakespeare’s always been mute on the point. Whatever its inspiration, the plate remains a delightfully bazaar harmony of lamb, saffron, infidelity, jealousy, affection and pasta that appeals both to the ruling classes and the hard-working ruled. The recipe is a comic demonstration that once you get past our social roles and down to our basic hungers, we all eat at the same table.

The Ingredients of the Dish:
Lots of lamb
A metaphorical flower with bitchin’ neuropsychedelic proper-ties
Some garlic
Enough rosemary for the dish

Extra-Virgin olive oil

Pepper & salt

The Chefs of the Recipe:
Robin Goodfellow (Puck) – Maitre of Eotiatopio Daoaki
Peaseblossom – a fairy chef
Mustardseed – a fairy waiter

Oberon – head chef and co-owner of the restaurant
Titania – his wife and the other owner

Bottom – a saxophone player

Other fairy waiters and chefs and the rest of The Band

Serves all social classes, royal fairies included

Act III, sc.2

Enter Robin Goodfellow, (Puck), into the Daoaki kitchen. Fairy chefs are already working, and fairy waiters are moving in and out from the dining room with drinks

Puck: Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Where’s Oberon? So late, I fear. Why did he and Titania have to pick of all nights the mayor’s pre-wedding dinner celebration to have another one of their drag-out fights?

Peaseblossom: Did you get him on the phone?

Puck: Yes, and he said ‘just keep the free booze flowing till I get there,’ which is what he said 20 minutes ago.

Mustardseed: Any more Ouzo and all hell’s going to break loose. Everyone in there’s getting really goosed.

Puck: Has the band gotten here at least?

Enter Oberon

Oberon: Where is my ungrateful, faithless, proud wife?

A Fairy waiter: She’s, um, in the dining room, and has most of our bar drinks test- tasted. So you might find her if a little wast…

Enter Titania noisily, almost falling through the kitchen door

Titania: Well kalispera, buonasera, bon nuit, good freaking’ evenin’ to you, (walking up to Oberon and pinches his cheek) my little jealous hubby-wooby- dooby-do.

Oberon (showing her a monthly statement): How canst thou for shame, my sauced Titania, use our mutual Amex account on your ‘visiting an old friend’, you said, trip. To Santorini. The 4 Seasons. 6,700 euros! Bite my lip, nossir, knowing I know thy hots for what’s-his-face, that Indian boy who’s young enough to be...

Titania: Your son, lord chef, and my younger brother. Kumar is his name, you re- member, last month, dinner, my sorority sister, his mother? And don’t raise your tone with me. How many of your little cooking classes ‘ran late’, past 3, as one of your young blonde fairies your little ham omelet flipped. In how many of those mayonnaise sauces did you your royal eggs dip?

Puck: Lord and lady, I would wonder over hill and dale and over widest oceans set widest sail - putting thus a girdle on the globe - so not to interrupt the tempested course of your heated marriage discourse, we do have other royal mouths to fill with more than angry words. T’is well past serving time, so this maitre’d Puck asks you humbly to set aside your verbal swords.

Tatiana picks up a drink from a passing tray and gulps it down. Exits.

Oberon: True. ‘Tis a late hour and we our dining party should fill with food before their happy spirits sour. Not enough time remains for slower oven dishes. We must prepare solid spirits of another, faster sort. I with traditional Italian pasta recipes have oft made a winning sport. So we will with tonight’s chunks of castrated lamb put aside their roasting and change our plan. My loyal Puck, go into the basement pantry and there, with a little luck, below the shelf where the wild thyme lays, you’ll find a large canister in which our Apennine mountain saffron stays. Fetch me that flower, fetch me that herb, and our delayed dinner to our royal dining lovers will swiftly be served.

Exit both. Enter the band wearing ‘The Band’ tee shirts, and Tatiana. She has one arm around Bottom, an ugly-ish, chubby-ish big guy with a goatee, holding a tenor sax

Tatiana: So, my big, lovely Bottom, you make me feel torn. I can’t decide if I’d rather you blow me a song, or let me blow on your hard, long ho… Bottom: Certainly, mum. We The Band aim to please. Weddings, barmitzfah’s, sweet 16 birthday parties, ‘you name it, we’ll play it’. That’s our motto.

Exit both. Enter Puck and Oberon with the saffron and lamb. Oberon makes the dish as he speaks.

Oberon: This dish is neither so heavy to read or do as compounded in its form and fla- vor. There are three main parts to this our Wood’s pasta; the noble, ruling lamb, the royal, spirited saffron, and the humble, hard-working garlic, to savor. You sauté the chunks of meat in oil, browning them well on the highest of heat. Then the flame lower and in go the sliced cloves, while the spaghetti alla guitarra softens on the stove, Cognac then pepper and salt and then finally the flower, who in but a little hot water has given forth its dreamy juice, then halt. Drain the noodles well, toss them in the pan with the rest until the flavoring amalgamates through its starchy shell. Now plate and to the dining room. Fairies, Puck, right away, not soon!

Exit all

Act III, sc. 3

Enter Puck from the dining room. Dinner’s been served. Oberon is resting along with all the other fairies in the kitchen

Oberon: How’s it going’ in there?

Puck: Now the hungry guests have eaten,
And their wakefulness been beaten,
Do lie sleeping in the hall
As the trees do in the fall.
In the morning when they wake
Each will have a head that aches,
For which pain we’ll have a cure:
Large black pots of coffee, sure,
And some aspirin, if they wish,
We will hand out in a dish,
Then send them home - save the queen
Who now sober has just seen
Bottom’s not the stud she saw.
Her love for you quick will thaw.

Turns to the readers

If our lamb dish has offended
Make it now, all will be mended. Exit recipe

The real recipe:


500 grams of spaghetti alla guitarra

Extra-Virgin olive oil

Saffron (whole) 


Broth (see Henry Vth’s broth) 


Honey, chestnut if possible

5 Spices or cinnamon 

Salt & fresh pepper

250 grams of lamb in bite-sized cubes 

serves 5

Sear the lamb pieces in a pan with a little oil, then add about 1/4 cup of Cognac. Evaporate, then add salt and fresh black pepper and a pinch or two of diced rosemary. Add a pinch of ‘5 spices’ or high-quality cinnamon if you like. Toss, then add about a cup of broth, a teaspoon of chestnut honey, mix and turn down the heat. Put the spaghetti on to boil in salted water. Put the saffron in just a little hot water to extract the flavor, or leave whole if it’s high quality, and cascade the pistils in after. When the noodles are ready pour them into the now reduced sauce and then integrate the saffron. Mix, then plate and add some drops of fresh e.v. olive oil. Serve with a lightly structured red, Testarossa Montepulciano d’Abruzzo if you can find it. Or a Nemea Agiorgitiko, if you can find that.


  Johannes Berchtold is a rather oldish guy, hairy and round. Well, by comparison anyway. Maybe too much time cooking, maybe a bit fanatical on looking at behavior as emergent from the interaction of evolution within varying environments, genetics, epigenetics, physiology (neuronal network dialogue) and other stuff. He spends much of his time in Italy, though he was born and raised in Cleveland.


Photo under Creative Commons.