Kitchen Mystic by Paulette Licitra

The Deconstruction by Karen Cantrell

Patisserie de Pakistan by Gregors Johnson

Meals of a Lifetime by Rebecca Keller

Ode to Risotto by Donald Newlove

Fully Committed by Doug Sovern

Biscuits and Gravy by William Blomstedt

Keeping It Tidy by Alan Linton

If I Knew You Were Coming by Alisha Lumea

On Your Only Day Off by Nicole Edwards

Bagpipes and Pan Fried Smelts by Ted Radakovic

Joseph Conrad’s Dark Linguini by Giovanni Berchtold

Missing Something by Jean-Luc Bouchard

We Love You, Mayonnaise! by Alona Martinez

Japanese Food by Esther Cohen

Raw Köfte by Hardy Griffin

Proust's Soup by Giovanni Berchtold

A Sacred Virgin by Paulette Licitra

on a friday evening by Keith Leidner

Ropa Vieja by Raul Palma

Deidre's Last Meal by Esther Cohen

Wired by Alan Linton

Chestnut by Katherine Gleason

The Moon is an Outdoor Sandwich by Patty Houston

Garlicky Greens by Lois Marie Harrod

First the Shell, Musical; Then the Custard, Irrevocable by Sarah Begley

Meals of Choice by Dorian Fox

A Low Table by Christian Aguiar

The Sylvian Fissure by Rosalie Loewen

Two Versions of Eating Potatoes by David Spiering

Conch Salad by Michele Ruby

Hopper by Michael Onofrey

Caution: Coffee is Hot by Gary Scott

The Fairy Part by Alberto Giuseppe

Foie Gras by Judith Edelman

Rosemary and Olive Oil by Gail Gauthier

Mario's Shoes by Natalie Parker-Lawrence

Cake by Marianne Villanueva

Retreat: October on Copper Mountain by M.E. Parker

The Sandwich Diaries by Angus Woodward

But There Was No Star Anise by Andrew Martell

Fruit Route by Susan King

Retreat: October on Copper Mountain Road

by M.E. Parker

October 2012    

Mules crushed the apples under hoof, mixing them into a paste of wet clay and autumn leaves, into applesauce with seeds and stems and flavors of the earth baked in. With no one to pick the apples this year, they had dropped from their branches heavy with raindrops to ripen in the path of the Fourteenth Mountain Brigade. Many times he had gathered the apples along this road, every October as a kid, apples his alchemist grandma spooned into edible gold.

He kept his eyes down, fixed on the next step. They all did, afraid to see how many steps remained. The once tight column of regulars had sputtered into a line of stragglers lumbering beside wagons bearing canons. They collected miles the way aunts and uncles acquire nieces and nephews, in unexpected, periodic bursts of familiarity: a farmer’s fence, a stand of oak trees, a house with smoke rising from the chimney. But some less familiar scenes had grown common on Copper Mountain Road, smoke roiling from the back window instead of the chimney, smoke from a bedroom with broken glass on the pillow, fields where a layer of mist enwrapped the fallen, and saturated battlegrounds where no sack, no cart, no mountain of Grandma’s sugar poured on that mélange of human and earth would ever bring the salt of blood into balance.

Through ruts both fresh and ancient, over rocks, around holes, he groped the road with purpling toes mired in a soup at the bottom of his boots, all the while dreaming of bacon and beans, his wife’s, with pulled ham shank and bread dipped in gravy over a bed of rice. The war had soured, but his wife’s face remained fresh. Though, he might never see the face of the child she carried, might miss the drama of a first breath, never see the delight in the child’s eyes after her first bite of applesauce brewed from Grandma’s recipe. His friends had all fallen, left behind after the battle. Abandoned in the Fourteenth’s retreat, and his ache to bury their remains, or at least cover them with stones, brought to mind his firstborn, who had come into the world a perfect breathless boy only to leave it as quickly, resting now beneath an oblong of discolored earth and gravel behind the family barn. If his wife lost another, worse, if she lost another and her husband, too, his beautiful bride would have no one left in the wake of this conflict to love her the way he knew she should be loved, adored from the eyes of a child.

With the smell of crushed apples, his wife’s face persisted, her hair always bathed in apple blossom soap. So close to her now, on Copper Mountain Road, so near her in his dreams that he and his love might have been breathing the same air, air ripe with memories of apples and cinnamon and wet hay and hopes for a decent harvest. So familiar he could almost hear her labors, the child that would come, a child on the verge of a first cry, his wife facing the dangers of childbirth with no one there to hold her hand, perils as inevitable as his on the battlefield. Grandma was gone. Doctors, they were all at the front. And the rest of her family lay in rows of oblong earth behind the family barn.

He would have nothing to fight for if she were not there to return to, if his unborn child and his wife fell to the travails of childbirth. The enemy would not be those at the opposite end of his canon fire but his own people for keeping him away from his beloved. After all, he was but one in a long line of soiled uniforms beside sluggish mules tugging supplies and canons.

He scanned the column for a horse, one that could still lope through a meadow and jump a creek. The captain had a horse, a feisty Appaloosa known to give a kick every now and then. Without awareness of what he was doing, not until after he had done it, after the scent of crushed apples sealed his commitment to his wife and unborn child, he found the belly of his captain’s horse and loosened the saddle belt while the bleary-eyed officer stared into the endless road ahead. Then he dismounted the captain with the butt of his rifle, and replaced him on the bare back of the captain’s own horse.

Only after he gave that Appaloosa a kick to the ribs did he realize what the sluggish march through the apples had done to him, what decisions his battle weary mind had made on his behalf. He would ride. He would take that horse as far as the edge of the earth, to his family, or he would meet the deserter’s fate, hanged from a tree off the horse he had stolen, only to be just another apple yet to fall onto Copper Mountain Road.

  M.E. Parker has recently added ample amounts of ghost pepper to much of what he eats, momentarily distracting him in his quest for the fieriest food. He is the founding editor of Camera Obscura Journal of Literature & Photography. Find him at

Photo used under Creative Commons.