Baking Poetry--the Heart and Soul of a Baker

Image.jpgOn 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. Image 1.jpg 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 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