Form of the Week 20 — The Recipe Poem
On October 11th 2012 Clarinda Harriss wrote:
Sorry if I'm taking liberties with that salutation, but it's a habit Moira Egan and I got into among ourselves when working with our Hot Sonnets anthology. I hope you're taking note of the rave reviews it continues to get and are aware that the book is being used in numerous college classrooms—doubtless improving the class atmosphere and temperature.
Here's my idea: I'd like to look at another "something hot" from you — specifically, a recipe or description of a dish — for possible use in a piece of fiction I'm working on. It stars Simone Stiles, a Johns Hopkins PhD drop-out who is becoming famous for her erotic cookbooks, including Orgasmic Organics, Smokin’ Loins and Buggery (this last about making yummy and/or aphrodisiac edibles out of stuff — not excluding bugs — which people find yucky. (Of course that makes way for all sorts of oysters, ocean- and mountain.)
The epigraph for Simone's abandoned PhD dissertation, by the way, is Mark Strand's "Eating Poetry." Thanks to Moira, Strand has already given me permission to quote it in the story. Since I'm rather fond of fiction which contains some non-fictitious people (Thomas Pynchon liked it too), I'm hoping to include Moira, Hot Sonnets (surely it was a source of inspiration to Simone), and some food fun from real-life contributors to the anthology.
So: how about sending me a recipe or just a description of a dish which is somehow "hot"— in the sexy sense or the double entendre sense? Or something for Buggery which uses ingredients that many find repellent but produce something delicious?
If you do send, please include a few of your own words characterizing the dish and also let me know whether you'd be OK with my using your actual name in the story or would prefer me to characterize you simply as "one of the famous poets from the anthology."
Here's an example of what I had in mind: Ilse Munro, wonderful writer and online editor of Little Patuxent Review, sent me a recipe for a Latvian aspic from pig-parts-broth, pointing out that its gelatinous quivering upon the platter "can be quite suggestive." I have a few recipes of my own which involve possibilities during the cooking process, and Simone particularly likes this kind of recipe for her barbecue book (Smokin’ Loins). In fact, there are a number of poems about sexy cooking in Hot Sonnets. You might be willing to let me quote some tidbits even if you don't have an actual recipe to send.
Don't think about this too hard. Just let your mind riffle freely and a bit raunchily through your cookery file and your poem file and hit “Reply.” I would like to have your contribution by Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner. (I guess turkey giblets qualifies — do you do anything interesting with giblets? Ever nibbled leftover candied yams in bed w/a friend?) Also, please understand that the story, even if it develops into a novella, may not provide room for all recipes received.
Off to tend the tongue simmering on my stove as I write—
"Three Recipes" first appeared in The Critic, xxvii:1, Aug.-Sep., 1968;
"Sherried Artichoke Chicken" was anthologized in John Keats's Porridge, edited by Victoria McCabe, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1975.
These are a marvel! Thank you, thank you! I imagine Simone will be quoting from all three, though I personally think #1 is the sexiest (despite the painful idea of hatching an artichoke). Since her public name, Simone Stiles, is one she made up in homage to another exhibitionist, Simon Stylites, she will probably want to use both your names.
Hmmm. Perhaps she'll start on another book, Carousing (only recipes using booze), Savagery (wild game cooking, which really, there is, in real life, a need for), or maybe Drinking with Savages (booze and wild game) or (but no, I can hardly bring myself to type it) Soread-Eagled (devoted to stuffings).
I am so grateful! And btw, these are three of my favorite Turco/Court poems.
Glad you're happy with them, Clarinda,
Though they were published in the 'sixties, and one of them was even anthologized, they were lost for years until I reacquired them by writing to a library for a photocopy; they've never been collected. I remember writing them from recipes I saw in a women’s magazine my wife had.