Food Poetry


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One day, a kid walked through the Berkeley Farmer's Market, lagging slightly behind his mother. His mother held in her hand a jar. The child held jam in his hand. Moving slowly through the market in the early morning sunshine, he smiled a huge smile as he licked the deep red jelly from his palm. His mother rolled her eyes at the other shoppers, and muttered, "I guess we're eating jam."

A Czech boy moved to the United States of America from Prague. He grew up eating goulash and boiled potatoes, and when he came to the states, he added one more staple to his diet: ice cream. It was a treat he never had as a child but now he eats it every night. It's been more than four decades, and there is still always ice cream in his freezer. You know the metal cylinder of an ice cream maker-the piece that you have to freeze before using? He likes to keep his cartons in that.

A baby in Berkeley Bowl sat in a shopping cart, chewing on a raw green onion. His mother walked over, and the baby made a noise that sounded like "Ma?" and held out the onion with an outstretched arm. The mother looked at the baby, smiled, bit down on the onion for a second and said, "Yea, that's good." The baby offered an enormous grin before continuing to gnaw on the green onion.

Another day in Berkeley Bowl, a kid tugged on his father's sleeve, asking, "Can we get this, Dad? Can we please get this?" He was pointing at an enormous green stalk, which looked somewhat like a massive piece of celery but with an interior the texture of foam board. "What would we do with that?" father asked son, wincing at the thought of purchasing a large, unknown vegetable. "I don't know, make soup?" came the reply. The dad then turned to a fellow shopper, inquiring, "Could you make soup with that?" When they walked out of the grocery store, the stalk was in their cart.

A girl once sat in a Berkeley lecture hall and ate a whole birthday cake. OK fine, it was a mini birthday cake, but it was chocolate and had scripted, frosted lettering all over it.

A college kid once ordered a 25-pound bag of lentils simply because he could not believe how cheap it was. The enormous brown bag sat in the corner of his dining room, and slowly but surely emptied, providing what seemed to be an endless amount of nourishment. He now makes the best lentil curry in town.

One late night, a college student walked into his dark kitchen and got out a pan. He proceeded to cook bacon, only bacon. He piled it high atop a platter and devoured the whole thing. Perhaps the best midnight snack the world has ever seen.

A little girl grew up in a house with no toaster oven. Instead, her mother and father had to toast bread in the broiler, which meant that it was always burned. They used to tell her the burnt toast would make her hair curly. They told the boys it would give them hair on their chests. By and by, she grew to love the burnt toast. She still does and intentionally leaves bread in the toaster a bit too long. On her birthday, she had brunch at her country club, and all the toast was burnt.

This is why we love food. This is why we cook.

Put jam on your hands with Maria and Graham at [email protected]

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