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Baking Poetry--the Heart and Soul of a Baker

May 31, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose


On the road to personal, first there are cookbooks. (If you are what you eat wouldn't it follow that you also are what you make?) When one reads a good cookbook one feels a strong kinship to the author.

Closer to home are memoirs, which give a glimpse into how you became who you are.

And then there is poetry--a window reveal to one's soul. Clearly, publishing poetry requires much courage and willingness to vulnerability. Great poetry is like a swift arrow to one's sensibilities, with the potential to alter one's vision of life.

I first met fellow baker and author Marcy Goldman several years ago on a visit to Montreal when I was attending the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference. She invited me to her home in the suburbs and I didn't hesitate to accept. The moment I stepped into her sunny kitchen, with two freshly baked cakes sitting on the table to greet me, I knew I had met a kindred baking spirit. My first perception of Marcy as a poet followed shortly after, when I saw the cover of her book that was soon to be published. It captured my attention and made me want to know more.

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Marcy told me that she always draws a heart in the flour when she is finished baking for the day. I thought it was the most marvelous cover for a baking book that I had ever seen as it so eloquently expressed the baker's relationship to the foundation of her trade and passion. What could be a more perfect expression than the graceful hand of a baker, the flour on the counter, and the heart drawn in it. And I was reminded of the time at restaurant Bouley, in New York City, when I was moved to draw a heart in the scanty remains of the chocolate sauce on my dessert plate, as a comment to the chef.

I admire Marcy's baking, in fact, she generously gave me permission to include her famous honey cake (which I adore) in my upcoming Baking Bible. But it wasn't until she just published her first book of verse, Love and Ordinary Things, (which I ordered the moment I learned about it) that I got to experience and enjoy her poetry.

Compassionate, clever without guile, optimistic, revealing, and interwoven with symbolic references to food, especially baking, Marcy's poetry deeply touched my heart.

Love and Ordinary Things: Poems from the wheat field, kitchen, dance floor and heart

A Passion for Baking: Bake to celebrate, Bake to nourish, Bake for fun (Hardcover)

In June, "Love and Ordinary Things" will be on a Kindle countdown sale for a few days at half price. Also, Marcy is offering a free 4 month subscription to her website Better Baking if you purchase any one of her books and email her a copy of your online bill at editors@betterbaking.com

With Marcy's permission, here is one of my favorite poems from the book:

Recipe for a Peckish Palate
Marcy Goldman © From Love and Ordinary Things 2014

As a chef,
I'm often asked
How to woo an errant appetite,
Peckish with some wound
How to enliven a hunger that's gone south.
When dreams are detoured
Leaving only doubt
So I say,
Coax it with herbs,
Green and fresh
Soothe it with lemon balm
Or uplift it with ginger -
Entice it with wine-red chilli
Pungent with deep heat -
Love it with vanilla beans
Familiar and sweet -
Cool it with mint
Let it settle and heal
With lavender tea, roses, cinnamon and orange peel.
A lost appetite will wake up
Once vital, it will indeed revive -
It simply has no other choice
And in time what was quiet and still
Will once again rejoice.
But how to bring spirit to the plate
When the palate is empty
Bereft of sentiment or even sunny chatter -
How to court an unsung heart
When dark moods have come to prey
When the inner pantry feels bare
And tumbleweed blows
Through the spice shelf of life
When the heart is caught not singing
What then?

Well, I say,
The tonic is the same
The ladle ever poised, still pertains -
Love that heart in great measure
Don't stint on the elixir
Coax it with the breeze of the trees
Soothe it with kisses
Let it rise and breathe
Don't leave warmth to choice
And in time,
What was quiet and still
Will once again rejoice


Dorothy Checa Chong
Dorothy Checa Chong
06/ 2/2014 02:21 PM

The poem you published demonstrates the love of this person and is true in every line. I thank you for sharing as I look forward to obtaining her entire book of poetry. Thank you again for sharing!



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