The Five Poetic Essentials for Home Cooks

I bookmarked this post from The Kitchn a while ago & have finally gotten to read it. In her five tips, poet Jane Hirshfield perfectly describes what I love about both cooking & the written word.  Some of my favorites include:

“You are cooking right now, with only what you have around you. There are “forms”—a poem is sonnet, ode, or lyric; a dish is a soup or soufflé—but the challenge and also the joy of making come in making something of this very moment, out of ingredients that are both what the world has given you and what’s completely your own.”

“To make anything new and good, you need some confidence in your own sense of taste, even boldness. Timid cooking is like timid writing—plodding, dull, and not worthy of its ingredients or its eventual eaters. Confidence lets you serve one perfect peach simply sliced and set on an earthenware plate with a sprig of chervil as garnish.”

Cooking, like a good poem, dinner party, or a good life, really, is in large part about what goes well with what. Some companions are classic: oil and vinegar; cheese that wants some contrasting texture and flavor—toast or tomato or the right wine. Other companions are, at least at first meeting, distinctive surprises: the happiness of big cubes of watermelon served with feta cheese and fresh mint…But the more important companionship of the kitchen is the company of one another that is present in any mouthful’s moment—the community of farmers, shippers, mongers, fellow cooks and, not least, fellow eaters that make food’s sustenance also spirit’s sustenance, a sign of our connection to all being.”

Hirshfield really gets that the magic of a meal doesn’t just come from the food itself– it’s in the context, the company, the season, the process. I urge anyone who enjoys the experience of cooking, creating, & dining to read Hirshfield’s five tips. They have certainly reinvigorated me to get back into the kitchen & cook up a storm!


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