The Bread of Kings by Teresa Lust

Fake Pies and Pig Thighs by Rachel Komich

An Essay in Which Pam Greer Oozes Out of Her Clothes by Richard LeBlond

On Pierogi(s) by Mark Lewandowski

Vegetexting by Jennifer Bal

The Benefits of Eating Too Much in the Desert by E. M. Eastick

A Question of Taste by Meredith Escudier

The Beauty of Pizza by Austin Rogers

Marmalade: The Melomeli of Modern America by Michael Pennell

Three Elizabeths, One George, Hot Cross Buns, and Hampstead Heath by Paula Panich

Duck by Eileen Shields

Food for Thought by Kathryn Jenkins

Playing Mass by Catherine Scherer

My Big Fat Orthodox Thanksgiving by Ruth Carmel

The Astrophysics of a Sandwich by Raychelle Heath

Tantric Chicken by Mara A. Cohen Marks

Full by Kelly Ferguson

Monkey Eve by Carolyn Phillips

Capon by Natasha Sajé

The Paella Perplex by Jeannette Ferrary

The Right to Eat by JT Torres

This Isn't Supposed to Happen in the Morning by Heather Hartley

Recipe for Winter by Khristopher Flack

Step One by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Flour Fool Meets Great Poet and Pie Instructor by Amy Halloran

Everett by Jason Bell

The Intrigue of Aaron Barthel by Kristy Leissle

Personal Sugar Defense Kit by Sari M. Boren

Kitchen Tirade by Eric LeMay

Eat Dessert First by Iris Graville

Parsley by Natasha Sajé

American Zen Breakfast by Dick Allen

This May Make You [Sic] by Paul Graham

Prisoner's Thai Noodles by Byron Case

Lavender Fields by Susan Goodwin

Ménage à Fongo by Kathryn Miles

All That She Could Make with Flour by Katherine Jameison

Weasel by John Gutekanst

Into the Deep Freeze by Jason Anthony

Defining Gluten by Ann Lightcap Bruno

The Text(ure) of Pleasure by Tara Deal

On the Perils of Food-Buying in a Foreign Land by Tony Eprile

The Text(ure) of Pleasure

by Tara Deal

August 2012

Once, in the springtime, eating in the garden of a small and always lovely restaurant in Greenwich Village, I heard two rats screech, then watched as they fought along the top of the picket fence. Their Hitchcock-like silhouettes were outlined by the streetlights.

Once, in Cambridge, in my favorite café, a cockroach fell on my head as I tried to eat a croissant for breakfast.

And when I was a child and on vacation with my family, at a buffet in Acapulco, my father spotted a fly in the French salad dressing and covered it up so that I wouldn’t see it and therefore be disappointed with life when I helped myself at the salad station. (Even though he knew I would choose the French dressing.) These are the things I know about. The tip of the iceberg (lettuce).

Even so, I keep going. To restaurants. I keep hoping that a new dish will seduce me with promises of Aleppo pepper. Fennel pollen. Garam masala. Or za’atar, in the end.

Even though I once received a confirmation of my dinner reservations in Copenhagen that said: “Typed note is no guarantee that whishes/demands can be meet.” Of course not.

But then I make reservations in San Sebastián, which is supposed to have enough Michelin stars to light up any evening out. A place of perfection. The pinnacle of eating. (That’s what I’ve read.) And soon enough, I confront tasting menus with so many courses that I soon lose track of ingredients and preparations and what it all means. How much have I eaten? What more do I want? I take out a notebook to record my choices, to transcribe the poetry found on the heavy vanilla-colored (maybe even vanilla-scented) paper of oversized menus. I struggle to describe

oysters with chlorophyll
fish scales turned to “crystals” on red mullet
chocolate disks swathed in spinach like lacquer

as the Spanish twilight deepens around me with the ink of cuttlefish.

Back in the hotel room, I am unable to eat the tiny, homemade pastry left on my nightstand. I smell it, some cinnamon, even admire it, such delicacy, but I can’t eat it. It reminds me of those madeleines in Paris, that is, Proust—and his idea that the woman who would most appreciate an expensive Fortuny silk dress is the one who can’t afford it.

But right now, I can’t really think about clothes. I lie naked on the bed and hope to recover desire by tomorrow.

And I know I will, soon enough, want another menu to consider. More words like lobster to love.

  Tara Deal is the author of the poetry chapbook Wander Luster (Finishing Line Press) and the novella Palms Are Not Trees After All, which won the 2007 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize from Texas Review Press. Her shortest story appears in Hint Fiction (Norton). Find her online at


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