Food Glorious Food

“My forthcoming work in five volumes,The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature, is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful if I shall live to finish it. Some overflowings from such a fountain of information may therefore be permitted to sprinkle this page. I cannot yet wholly explain the neglect to which I refer. Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. ( G.K Chesterton, Daily News, July 10, 1909)


This week’s theme is “Food Glorious Food.” Rebecca wanted to encourage contributions from  beyond the writers and artists who normally respond to the theme by asking people for recipes and thoughts on favourite foods.

Writers are, of course, very welcome to share their favourite recipes.  In fact we would love to see them.  But poems and stories would be great too – on the theme of food or (as always) on anything else you would like.


The poets may have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese but the same cannot be said for writers and food more generally.  Just last week  we mentioned Proust’s memory-boosting madeleines  and bread has inspired poets at least since Omar Kayyam (around 1120)

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness–
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Illustration by Edmund Dulac (1909)


In fact there is so much bread poetry that it is a huge subject in itself. But I will just share this one from 1860 by Emily Dickenson

A little bread – a crust – a crumb –

A little trust – a demijohn –

Can keep the soul alive –

Not portly, mind! but breathing – warm –

Conscious – as old Napoleon,

The night before the Crown!


A modest lot – A fame petite –

A brief Campaign of sting and sweet

Is plenty! Is enough!

A Sailor’s business is the shore!

A soldier’s – balls! Who asketh more,

Must seek the neighboring life!


Bread is often used symbolically and allegorically in poetry – it was “the staff of life” in Europe and parts of Asia, for millennia before Sir Walter Raleigh brought us chips and chicken korma. But Luke Jerram took it literally last year, initiating a collaboration between poets and the Hobbs House bakery who baked the poems on to loaves of bread!

“The poetry is being printed onto small sheets of edible rice paper and baked onto the underside of each white loaf. Each Saturday the ‘Poet of the Week’ is being celebrated and for the same price as their standard loaf, the public are able to read, share, contemplate and digest this unique artwork.”


3 thoughts on “Food Glorious Food

    By Mairi Cable.

    My mother was a trained cook by NAAFI domestic Science teachers in a building in the west end of Charlotte Square Edinburgh. She was a good plain cook. She was especially good at soup. Her soup always had a shoulder of lamb in it too give it flavour. She stuck to the same vegetables of onions carrots and turnip and pulses sometimes Scotch Broth, sometimes yellow split peas and other times lentils. She didn’t have to measure these she knew just how much to put in. Sarah loved Granny’s soup and she was very fussy. Our Sunday dinner also usually lamb, gigot of lamb. This was a bit of a luxury. Roast lamb roast potatoes carrot and turnip sometimes cabbage and other times cauliflower my mother’s favourite. She made 48 roast potatoes. 6 each. Pudding was often custard with tinned fruit, peaches or pears. Sometimes we had Semolina or as it was known in our house farola or rice pudding. Another thing she made was a jelly pudding made with evaporated milk all whisked up. We loved that. She made my Granny’s version of Macaroni with cheese and a mashed potato topping with more cheese to make a crust. She also made patties with left over fish or meat and potatoes. She coated the patties in flour and fried them in a hot pan until they were crusty top and bottom. We also had fried herring in oatmeal and ling with Ceann Cropic a speciality of the islands.


  2. From Urszula:

    Food Glorious Food

    In our house food was very important
    After the starvation rations in Siberian days
    We always had lodgers or guests
    As well as the the six family members
    We had Polish meals

    Favourites were pierogi
    (pronounced pee-ro-gee)
    They were a bit like ravioli
    My mother rolled out the dough thinly on the kitchen table
    We had to cut out round shapes using a cup or glass
    About fifty shapes or more
    Then place a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle
    The round shapes were folded in half and the edges pinched
    To look like a small Cornish Pasty

    Various fillings were used
    Our favourite was mashed potato with cheese
    Bits of bacon were added if it was not a day of abstinence
    The pierogi were boiled in a large saucepan of water
    Until they floated to the top
    They were served on a plate
    Covered with small bits of fried onion in butter
    If there were any left over
    We had them fried the next day

    We liked potato pancakes
    We had to sit with a huge bowl and grate raw potato and onion into it
    They were fried and served with sugar or jam
    And a dish of sour cream

    We made cabbage rolls
    Blanched large cabbage leaves were filled with
    a mixture of cooked rice and minced meat
    Rolled up into little parcels
    Then tied up with cotton thread before
    Being placed in a pan of boiling water
    And served with a sauce

    For special occasions we made vegetable salad
    Involving chopping up lots of cooked vegetables
    Pickles and blanched apples all to an even size
    The size of peas again in a large bowl
    And all covered in salad cream and milk
    That would last a few days

    We generally had soup as a starter
    Chicken mushroom or tomato
    On special occasions we had beetroot soup
    Barszcz pronounced barr-scht
    A beautiful deep red colour
    My mother would add potatoes and beans
    Or have it clear red with tiny pasta bits

    We had home made cake
    Again we had to sit with a giant bowl between our knees
    Then stir beat the mixture of eggs and sugar with a wooden ball on a stick
    Until it was creamy but we reduced the amount
    We dipped our fingers in it and licked them
    It was very tasty
    Finally the flour was added
    Before putting it all into a form and into the oven

    As you may see there was a lot of sitting with a large bowl


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