Indulging in Words and Food

Days like this don’t come along very often—an unscheduled Saturday to myself, at home, alone. My husband, a sign language interpreter at a high school, left for the mainland on an early ferry and will return on the last boat tonight after interpreting for some students participating in a regional robotics competition.  I lounged in bed awhile, reading the first few chapters of The View from Casa Chepitos, a new memoir by Judith Gille. Gille’s descriptions of the flowers, food, architecture, and culture of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico gave an intermission to the gusting wind and the sun struggling to break through the morning gray—two of the very things that had nudged Gille to San Miguel a decade ago. There was one thing on my schedule for today—a run to Barn Bread Bakery—and  that nudged me to hold my place with a bookmark and set the memoir aside. 
Today’s offering included an assortment of breads baked in the wood-fired oven (see Saturday Breads).
This week’s bake included scones (apple spice, hazelnut/dried plum/orange zest) and cinnamon rolls, too.
I nestled goodies into a canvas bag to take home, brewed a cup of coffee, and savored a plum scone. To go with my little feast, another treasure I recently discovered—a poetry anthology edited by Kevin Young called The Hungry Ear – Poems of Food and Drink. Young describes food “as both an everyday and extraordinary festivity—which is where, alongside poetry, it belongs.”

I’ve been gorging on this collection ever since I discovered it at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company; I ordered two more copies for gifts from my local bookseller, Lopez Bookshop.   

This morning, William Carlos Williams’s “This Is Just to Say” was the perfect accompaniment to Barn Bread’s extraordinary plum scone:

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
   the icebox…
The Hungry Earfollows the seasons with its sections Harvest Moon, Wintering, Spring Rain, and Sweet Summer and offers a full menu that includes fruit and vegetables, beer and bacon, short orders, dinner for two, and giving thanks. The index of contributors is as extensive as a fine dining wine list with poems by Wendell Berry, Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Jane Kenyon, Ted Kooser, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich and a couple dozen more.
The sun brightened the sky on and off all morning, and I chastised myself for not using this open-ended day to hike among the firs at Iceberg Point or amble the beach along Swift’s Bay.  But to be honest, I share Kevin Young’s view that “there is nothing like food and drink to remind us of life’s pleasures, sating far more than hunger…. Food transports us to another place like little else, even if it’s just the couch after Thanksgiving turkey.” Words transport us, too, and today I’m indulging in them as well.
After my morning scone and coffee, some reading and a little writing, my unscheduled Saturday included another trip to Barn Bread. This time I arrived just as Nathan pulled a pizza from the oven—sizzling with locally-raised sausage and kale—and slid in another one, topped with caramelized onions and delicate squash.

A few minutes later, he rolled out a gluten-free crust for another with sausage and veggies.

There aren’t any poems in The Hungry Ear about pizza (though there is an entire section devoted to pork, including Young’s own, “Ode to Pork”). Tomorrow, my husband will have a much-needed day off, too, and you can guess what we’ll have for dinner. Maybe it will inspire a poem or two.


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