"i want to feel tectonic shifts.
i want to be. i want to be astonished."
~ Sleeping at Last
I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes,
took them home, boiled them in their jackets
and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.
Then I walked through the dried fields
on the edge of town. In middle June the light
hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,
and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds
were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers
squawking back and forth, the finches still darting
into the dusty light. The woman who sold me
the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone
out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses
praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables
at the road-side stand and urging me to taste
even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way,
she swore, from New Jersey. "Eat, eat" she said,
"Even if you don't I'll say you did."
you know all your life. They are so simple and true
they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,
they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,
the glass of water, the absence of light gathering
in the shadows of picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.
My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965
before I went away, before he began to kill himself,
and the two of us to betray our love. Can you taste
what I'm saying? It is onions or potatoes, a pinch
of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious,
it stays in the back of your throat like a truth
you never uttered because the time was always wrong,
it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken,
made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt,
in a form we have no words for, and you live on it.
“I think of flavor the way a painter thinks of color. Ice cream is a blank canvas for flavor, filling your nose and mouth as it melts. Food is an art form to be experienced.”
Pre-order Jeni’s debut cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which is being published by Artisan this spring. In it, she reveals secrets for recreating many of her signature flavors using a modestly priced automatic ice cream maker.
by Daron Larson
The chill slipped through my skin
right into my marrow
where it took root and blossomed.
You offered me a drink
of your coffee
which we both know
is much stronger than I can take.
Made me consider how often
people have to weigh a degree of bitterness
against our thirst for warmth.
I met a woman who drinks hot water
Says she never really liked coffee
but she enjoys cradling a warm mug
in her cold hands.
Says she doesn’t feel like she’s missing anything.
There must be fifty ways
I haven’t yet imagined
to warm these bones.
"I write to find where I'm going. But sometimes a scheme doesn't emerge very rapidly in the early part of writing, sometimes in the first five or ten thousand words. Sometimes I just blunder into a novel and start out thinking I'm doing one thing that I had asked myself to do in a note ten years before and end up doing another thing that I had asked myself in a not three years before. Sometimes I have to trick myself into doing things. But I do see writing, the actual physical matter of writing, as an act of imagination. And the best days, the best mornings are the ones in which forcing down a sentence might generate a surprise. A combination of ideas, or simply a noun meeting an adjective that suddenly gives me pleasure. Whole characters have sometimes emerged for me simply out of a sentence. Not out of the need to describe a character, but the need to make this kind of pattern on the page. And then I've gone on to build on that and found myself again pleased that something has come up, a little serendipity that's taken me in the direction."
"I like writers generally, and Nabokov is another who is supreme in this respect, who recognize that forty percent of the brain's processing is given over to the visual, and the visual region projects deep into other parts of the brain, of language and emotion. We are visual creatures and the novel, more than cinema, for me is ultimately a visual medium."
"But as for readers, readers are too diverse and the thing we all learn about contemporary literature is that there are no standards; there are no common standards of taste. You can get two perfectly intelligent, widely read people in the room who've read the same book, and one thinks it's a disgrace from one end to the other, and the other thinks it's a masterpiece. How is it that we don't have a common view of what even constitutes a good sentence? There's nothing, our feet can't touch the ground on this, and it's no good to try and sort it out by voting--these sorts of lists that you get in newspapers...Maybe the lists are our desperate plea for some certainty; given that we just don't know what a good book is or we can't agree on what a good book is...How is it we have not taught ourselves in university courses the elements of a good book?...it is impossible to constitute a reader in your head, except a strange, skeptical, critical, unimpressed one that I have who makes me take things out, generally. It's not about putting things in; it really makes me take things out."