Friday, July 20, 2012

my difficult kitchen

First, a poem by the beloved Gwendolyn MacEwen. {source}


by Gwendolyn MacEwen

Thre's no point kidding myself any longer,
I just can't get the knack of it ; I suspect
there's a secret society which meets
in dark cafeterias to pass on the art
from one member to another.
It's so personal preparing food for someone's
insides, what can I possibly know
about someone's insides, how can I presume
to invade your blood?
I'll try, God knows I'll try
but if anyone watches me I'll scream
because maybe I'm handling a tomato wrong,
how can I know if I'm handling a tomato wrong?

something is eating away at me
with splendid teeth

Wistfully I stand in my difficult kitchen
and imagine the fantastic salads and souffl├ęs
that will never be.
Everyone seems to grow thin with me
and their eyes grow black as hunters' eyes
and search my face for sustenance.
All my friends are dying of hunger,
there is some basic dish I cannot offer,
and you my love are almost as lean
as the splendid wolf I must keep always
at my door.

I completely understand this poem. I used to really dislike cooking.  But, if you're going to eat, you might as well make it as beautiful experience as possible. Cooking simply, anyway, is healthier and less expensive than buying processed junk, or eating out, etc.  I think I'm pretty decent at making meals for my family.  But when it comes to cooking for friends, I become a nervous wreck.  There is a splendid wolf outside my door.  There is.

I'm even nervous about showing my food shots, at least of the stuff I've made.  Because, do I really know how to poach an egg??  How to stuff a potato?

Well, I do know how to chop a salad.

And admittedly, the ravioli (lobster - excellent splurge) is store bought (from the Enjoy Centre).  The mushroom cream sauce, I made myself.  

I admire those people who can keep a clean house, host elegant dinner parties.  The great thing about taking a shot of a plate of food is that you can give the illusion that everything is lovely, clean orderly.  You can imagine a spotless kitchen, dishes done, a dog that doesn't shed endlessly all over your house.

But the kitchen really is a difficult place.  Some of my happiest moments have been sitting at the table sipping a glass of wine and writing in my journal while the pasta boils, or a stew simmers. But I don't think I'll ever have the knack for cooking for people.

Looking through all the bios of Gwendolyn MacEwen, I'm reminded that she passed at the age of 47.  I'm 46.  She wrote so many stunning poems. The age thing always gets me - she was one of the first poets I read rather obsessively, in my twenties.  And here I am, her age.  Feel like quite a slacker....

If you haven't read her work, I encourage you to do so....I've put her books on my Otlet's shelf - (above under recommended reading).


  1. "let us answer hunger/with boiled chimera/and apocalyptic tea" from "A Breakfast for Barbarians" seems fitting :)

  2. You've captured my sentiments exactly. But you needn't fret about your food photos; they always leave me a) wishing I'd made that and b) thinking how lovely dinner at your house must be!

  3. I am with you on hosting elegant dinner parties but cooking food for close friends should be as comfortable as their company :-) No fretting....that ravioli and salad, oh my! You food shots are stunning, you hear me Shawna :-)

  4. well, i'd have every one of you over if i could! xo


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