Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Midweek reminder: Beyond the heart of things

Once upon a time (and for a limited time--three years) I spent my days cooking, many hours on end. It was a mixed bag, like with any chosen path. While there are aspects of catering/personal cheffing that I truly miss: having multiple pots on the stove, various dishes in states of prep, oven always on and baking, having a walk-in fridge with some of my favorite ingredients just feet away at all times, bringing smiles to people's faces when I'd arrive with food... There are things I do not miss, as well: events eating up my weekends and weeknights, tense brides and their even-more-tense mothers, being asked to make some not-my-style menu items, earning on the low side, money-wise, and of course, sore feet and cut-up hands...

I saw this poem and it really took me back, in a very good way, to those days; especially the sore feet and cut-up hands! I wish I'd taken a picture of some of the worst weeks, with bandages on at least three fingers... Good times.

Each night you come home with five continents on your hands:
garlic, olive oil, saffron, anise, coriander, tea,
your fingernails blackened with marjoram and thyme.
Sometimes the zucchini's flesh seems like a fish-steak,
cut into neat filets, or the salt-rubbed eggplant
yields not bitter water, but dark mystery.
You cut everything to bits.
No core, no kernel, no seed is sacred: you cut
onions for hours and do not cry,
cut them to thin transparencies, the red ones
spreading before you like fallen flowers;
you cut scallions from white to green, you cut
radishes, apples, broccoli, you cut oranges, watercress,
romaine, you cut your fingers, you cut and cut
beyond the heart of things, where
nothing remains, and you cut that too, scoring coup
on the butcherblock, leaving your mark, when you go
your feet are as pounded as brioche dough.
Jane Hirshfield


  1. When I first read this poem I thought of you, saved it and was going to use it in your honour but you were quick-draw. Great poem.

  2. Hummmm.
    Interesting poem.
    Cook until you drop.
    Life gives you what you look for.
    It is pretty much what you make it.


Blogger Template By Designer Blogs