The Food Was Pure Poetry

old fashioned calories counterCan food be poetry? Poetry is a way to capture something that is so difficult to do – explain human emotion in writing. I’ve always loved poetry because it has the ability to cast images and construct moods with just a few well-chosen words.

Changing one word in a piece of poetry can alter the entire experience. And the same holds true in the creation of fine cuisine; changing one ingredient can brighten the dish or make the flavor clash in sour dissonance. Poetry and fine food are kissing cousins, because food has that same immediacy to cast sensations in the mouth, nose, and throat as poetry casts a feeling into the heart and mind with the fresh imprint of words.

So next time you’re cooking in the kitchen or find yourself dining out, think of food as if it were poetry. I invite you to contemplate food, and celebrate it. Treat it with respect, never throw fresh food away, and share it with those you love. Realize that it can be more than just a physical necessity and more than just a way to provide the body with energy.

Food – just like poetry – has the ability to inspire, delight, and bring fulfillment. So I want to share a tasting with you, samples of poetry – two of my favorites.

Salt Rub

I thought it more
The first appetizing bite of many
Gourmet together
Already looking forward to the next
Without so much whiskey marinade, or my bedside clock
Ticking the pressure-cooking time.

Somewhere nearby
Yet far enough away from home-made
To excite the palate like the perfect wine-

A picnic spread on Angel Island with its sacrilegious spice
Or off the beaten path inside Muir Woods silence
Nearer to our wilder natures

But no, you lost your taste in a pinch.
Before our best dishes were even half-baked
You were done-one tingling of your tongue and
Finished for good, you claimed
Running back to your comfort food, your condensed soup

By Todd Christopher Cincala, my highschool classmate, at

Ode To The Onion

luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
clear as a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
the table
of the poor.

By Pablo Neruda, Chilean writer and politician 1904-1973

More of My Favorite Poets


  1. you are a chef AND an artist!! xx, anna

  2. You are so cute! Hope you had a great birthday.

    lots of love!

  3. I love anologies like this…cooking is an art! and it is so interconnected with contentment, pleasure, and fond memories. Or comfort and unity during hard times. Just like poetry!
    Thanks Jen for keeping your heart in what you do!

  4. Beautiful post, and I love how you say that poetry has the ability to “inspire, delight, and bring fulfillment.” I actually write and recreate food from poems on my website (just did a poem on the plums in William Carlos Williams’ “This is Just to Say.” I haven’t read that Neruda poem before! Thanks for the post…

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