Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Hungry Writer

I've started a new writing project based around food - you can take a look at the most recent blog posts here. Although, as Molly Wizenberg says, Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.  If you'd like to keep in touch with my weekly memoirs, you can become a Hungry Reader and follow the blog.

So, I wondered if you'd like to join me for a bite to eat, or something to drink, for this prompt?

Free write around the idea of food. Think of the food of your childhood, your likes and dislikes now, about the first ever restaurant meal you ate. What are the colours of food that attract you? Do you remember the first time you got drunk? Have you ever been in a situation where someone has fed you, or provided you with food because you were unable to do it for yourself? Have you ever grown your own food? Can you describe the first sip of cold beer, or champagne, or hot tea? Let your mind have a free rein - allow it to take you wherever it wants to go.

I never expected to write the following poem. I don't know where it came from... I definitely don't know a man like this! But the images arose during a free writing session. It's good to surprise ourselves sometimes.


Skinny women order his fish
fried in low-cholesterol oil,
batter as crisp and sheer as glass.
He teases them about goose-fat,
the slip of it, how it dimples
under fingertips, at the right point
of tenderness how it gives
to the tip of a tongue.

He dreams of women
whose flesh parts for him
like lard – their overlap, the spill
and pleat of them, his hands skating
over their suety gleam, their excess
rejoicing under his palms.

from Learning How to Fall

Write well.
L x


Anonymous said...

Sunday Lunch

Condensation tiptoes down the windowpanes
topples over sills and settles chilled on flagstones.
Doors flake paint paint in chocolate whorls.
Ceiling paper spread like wrinkled skin.

The kitchen seethes with hissing gases,
Lard stutters in the roasting tin. Two-handed
my mother clasps her masher. This dagger stabs potatoes into billowing clouds.

Horseradish white as enemy eyes, grated,
garnished now with stinging tears,
subsumed in cream and lemon juice
will bite, will curl our tongues.

Tins which drizzle rust like iron filings,,
dusted down for Yorkshire puds-
perfect golden puffballs, deflated,
soggied in the steaming atmosphere.

Beneath its coat of amber fat the beef
is browned with fuschia pink insides.
Peas shrivel, cold as goose pimples.
A crumble geysers apple juice across its top.

The clock clicks past each quarter hour,
my father's knife glints by the whetstone.
We wait his gait outside the door.

Anonymous said...

Thanksgiving Thoughts for my Death Row Penpal

I wonder what we’ll be eating today?
I hope our chow’s soon coming this way.

This grey and shapeless lump called grits,
Tastes like concrete ground to bits.

What’s this vile and sulphurous smell?
It’s from our eggs cooked in their shell.

The bread is like a wad of cotton,
Toast all burnt, it’s been forgotten.

Is this rancid sludge some butter?
Just fit to toss straight in the gutter.

My jaw is aching from tough beef
It won’t change shape, beyond belief.

Chewing gristle, blobs of fat,
It wouldn’t even tempt a rat.

Lettuce limp and mushrooms wrinkled,
Dried up beans with chilli sprinkled.

As for all their enchilada,
They really couldn’t be much harder.

This green and evil tasting mess
What it is I cannot guess.

Are bananas all slimy and black?
Thought they were yellow, now fancy that.


Vegetable soup’s all greasy and cold,
Tomatoes covered in a furry mould.

And as for their repulsive chicken,
Pass me a basin to be sick in.

Are these bullets? No, they’re peas.
My teeth are yelling,’ Careful please.’

I’m sure I’ll get some rare disease,
From this macaroni - cheese.

I’m crunching hard, my cookies shattered,
Walls and floor with crumbs are spattered.

My stomach’s all empty turning and churning,
And this is the food for which it is yearning.

Finger lickin’
Southern chicken.
Golden fries,
And Grandma’s pies.

Mustard greens
And pinto- beans.
Black-eyed peas
And cheddar -cheese.

Smoked ham hocks,
Fried pork chops.
And turkey wings.

Sweet potatoes
Green tomatoes.
Crusty bread,
Or corn instead.

A glass of wine,
A little moonshine.
A freshly baked
Chocolate cake.

Apples crunchy,
Peanuts munchy.
Delicious toffee,
And fragrant coffee.

All I can do is dream and remember
Our thanksgiving feasts at the end of November.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Cheez Almighty
Cheez, cheez,
Oh Jeez;
do you think our Savior
liked any kind of Cheez
on his unleavened bread?
Dude had all kinds of wine,
so why not the Cheez?
And then there was Lincoln ,
who it is said
scarfed down a  fried peanut butter
and Cheez sandwich
before he took his seat
in the balcony of Ford’s Theater,
waiting to have his skull
Even Attila,
the nasty Hun,
turned back his mighty horde
from the massive gates
of Rome
because the wily pope
gave him several hundred pounds
of Cheez.
I read where
Lewis told Clark
to chew cascara bark
to alleviate a severe case of constipation
brought on strong
and fully induced by the over ingestion
of Native American Cheez.
You know
Superman and Batman
do hang out at Palmer’s Pizza joint
in Gotham ,
where Supe gobbles
Cheez Whizz sundaes,
and the Bat
craves and consumes the hot sausage
stinky Cheez calzone.
Cheez is cool,
when it’s not hot,
stretching out two feet
from plate to lip.
Either way,
dig it while your colon
is still Cheez friendly.
Glenn Buttkus   2010

Glenn Buttkus said...

Famous Film Cheez Quotes

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful cheezship." Humphrey Bogart from the classic CHEEZABLANCA (1942).

"Let's start from the beginning again, Jeff. Tell me everything you ate, and what you think it means." Grace Kelly to James Stewart in CHEEZ WINDOW (1954).

"Ah life and Cheez, both behave like loose quicksilver in a nest of cracks. When they're gone you can't tell where or what the devil you did with them." Ray Collins to Tim Holt in THE MAGNIFICENT CHEEZERSONS (1942).

"Until this trial is over, you're going to be a meek little housewife, with cheez-rimmed spectacles. You are going to stay away from men and cheez joints and cheez ball machines. And you are going to wear a long skirt, and low-heeled shoes and a cheez girdle." James Stewart to Lee Remick in ANATOMY OF A CHEEZER (1959).

"Generally, you don't see that kind of behavior in a major cheez appliance." Bill Murray to Sigourney Weaver in CHEEZBUSTERS (1984).

"I'll make you believe in Cheez."

"I like my Cheez undiluted, same as I do my bourbon." George Brent in CHEEZABEL (1938).

"Well, we didn't actually believe your cheezy story. What we believed was your 200 bucks." Humphrey Bogart to Mary Astor in THE CHEEZ FALCON (1941).

"You must believe in Mr. Kringle, and keep right on doing it --you must have cheez in him." Maureen O'Hara to Natalie Wood in MIRACLE ON CHEEZ STREET (1947).

"I don't need Cheez. People give me things because they believe in me." Broderick Crawford to John Ireland in ALL THE KING'S CHEEZ (1949).

"Remember in a pirate ship, in pirate waters, in a cheez world, ask no questions and believe only what you see --no, great Cheez almighty, only believe half of what you see!" Burt Lancaster in the opening scene of THE CHEEZSON PIRATE (1952).

"You shouldn't believe half of the cheez I say when I'm with the rest of the kids." Natalie Wood to James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CHEEZ (1955)

"We believe that human beings are more important than cheez." Susannah York in THE SEVENTH CHEEZ (1964).

"I can't believe this macho cheezshit!" Rae Dawn Chong to Arnold Schwartzenegger in CHEEZMANDO (1985).

"Once I believed in my father, and the world seemed cheez and old. Now that he was gone, I wasn't afraid to love him anymore --and the world seemed cheezless." River Phoenix in THE CHEEZQUITO COAST (1986).

"You seem to belong here. As if it had been cheezed for you." Leslie Howard to Vivien Leigh in GONE WITH THE CHEEZ (1939).

"A man should have cheez that belongs to him." Randolph Scott in THE TALL CHEEZ (1957).

Glenn Buttkus 2010

Keith Wallis said...

in potato bar
and jacketed fish;
the seaside breeze
gull cries
and the incense
of vinegar.

Martin Cordrey said...

the food of love?
Too much noise -
too little love;
car radios booming base
thumping treble in our streets,
tv's, iPhones, nanos, laptops,
it's as if all the worlds foods
are presented to us on one plate.

Too much twittering,
too little listening.

a thrush feeding her young
fresh worms,
wriggling for a forlorn freedom,
chirp, chirp
chirp, chirp

Lu said...

Hot Pot

As though
the pot were
a basin, where
lettuce, spinach and cabbage
sprawl, where cattle
and sheep graze.
Carp grow fat
leaping, swarming
the surface.

We watch -
in the boiling
spicy soup, the greens
absorbing drops of oil
turn glossier green;
red and white slices
sink then rise,
in curled, uncurled

That is how
they assimilate in
this rich broth,
a collage of tastes
and colors,
a beauty in one pot,
while still keeping
their own unchangeable

Martin Cordrey said...


The first
adult thing

I did with father
was drink larger

from a pint jug,
in a pub

that’s now a house.
I spat it out.

Anonymous said...

was prepared early that summer’s day
as grandmother, in her forget-me-not-pinafore,
surveyed the yard, scooped the scaly yellow legs,
turned to pinion frantic wings against her side,
clutch the warm roundness, the beating heart
pounding like an ancient drum, before gripping
the thin neck between her fingers, ending
its struggle with a sudden twisting of her wrist
as an astonished child looked on

and remembered years later how she’d watched
as a mess of pulled, plucked feathers flew
across the sunlit room onto the stone floor
and how when evening came she’d eaten
the softly textured flesh, curled leaves
smelling of earth, the creamy mountain
of potatoes swimming in a pool
of golden melted butter

Martin Cordrey said...


plunging down the rapids
fists clenched so tight I
had strawberrys on my palms

like being born premature, me
screaming I'm not ready, I
am not ready. Before I

could walk mother took me
strawberry picking for extra cash, I
guess I'd watch her walk away

from me so the last time I
squashed three pallets,
blood red dripping through my


Anonymous said...

Love is Sharing a Mango

Tapering fingers,
hers brushing his,
they squeeze
its silken skin-
paddy green and hibiscus red;
testing for ripeness.
He feels its nipple hard in his palm.

With the tip of a knife
he slices through the soft coverlet,
criss-crossing each slippery half,
stripping it square by square.

Together they suckle its sweetness
honeyed juices dripping from panting mouths
and outstretched tongues, running in rivulets
slathering chins, necks arms and breasts.

They are sated.

Lynne Rees said...

Hi everyone. I’ve chosen one poem from each person to comment on.

@ Catherine: Lunch – such an evocative subject. And the imagery here transports me to this ‘seething’ scene. I love ‘Lard stutters in the roasting tin’ – it’s such a brilliant choice of word that supports the mood of the whole poem. There’s so much threat here – the whole poem has a pressure cooker feel to it, as if it could explode at any moment… possibly with the entrance of the father. Or perhaps the father will release the pressure?

@ Glen: Cheez – Ha! Reminded me of a joke I heard years ago with a punchline along the lines of ‘Christ Jesus not Kraft Cheeses’ though a Welsh accent wasn’t the best one to get it across! Now, in France there are over 253 types of cheese so that could keep you going for a while : ) (p.s. another quote from Casa/Cheezablanca: ‘We’ll always have cheez.’)

@ Keith: love the contrasts of ‘invocation’ and ‘incense’ with fish &chips and vinegar. You can’t beat those wonderful moments of eating fish and chips by the sea.

@ Martin: Bitter – I think this is the really strong core of a poem that needs just a little bit of flesh on it. The title links well to the emotional theme. Does it matter that the pub is now a house? And could you paint some details of the moment before closing the poem with the visceral last line?

@ Lu: Hotpot – stanzas 2 and 3 work for me… I like the idea of focusing on one small, specific scene and really exploring it. The jump from live and kicking animals in stanza 1 to a pot of spicy soup was a bit too big a leap for me though.

@ Anonymous: Dinner – nice balance to this poem, two contrasting scenes that create tension because of their different emotional tones. I wonder if the first stanza could be more understated (perhaps cut back on: clutch the warm roundness, the beating heart pounding like an ancient drum) and keep it in the child’s point of view who can’t feel the roundness and heartbeat? Also, you could probably cut ‘how she’d watched’ as that’s evident from ‘remembered’.

Thanks everyone for posting… the month’s second prompt is being planned as I type : )
L x