Cooking The Books
by Belinda Roddie
Listen: I've got an appetite that just
won't quit me. I'm deliberately tracking
my steps to the bookstore and back with
a new novel pressed against the nape
of my neck. My blood sugar's low,
and the polyphagia bites into my gut
like a steel-jawed trap making meat out
of my lower intestines. It ties my soul
up in knots, and with every word and
silly phrase, I want to gobble up every page,
taste the ink, and swallow the pulp, hiccuping
as I force myself to digest it: I am hungry,
and I need to read. I need the truth stamped
on everybody's crackling spine so when I
open them up, they don't have a single
secret that I can't find. I'll inject poetry like
insulin, stave off the textual diabetes with
a paper and pen. If I can't eat enough of
others' stories, I'll serve up my own cuisine to
keep my brain plump rather than mean and lean.
Listen: If you've got a tale to regale me with,
I am ready for the meal. Set up the dinner
table and pour me a glass of your finest red,
'cause I'm feasting tonight before I head off
to bed. We'll start with an anecdotal appetizer,
a little verbal trick with a punchline, something
quick and easy that goes well with the dark wine.
Next, the soup and salad, the back and forth
like a light comedy, all the flavors battling
for sustenance on a microfiber-covered
stage. I know the dessert will be something
sweet and fluffy, something romantic: A happy
ending after all the laborious kitchen antics.
But it's the entree that, above all else,
has to blow me away. Give me something packed
with enough protein to make my stomach travel
on a daring dragon and flagon adventure. Unravel
enough spice to make nice with the heroes
and the villains alike. A marinade of lemon
and citrus, vinegar and oil, to bring division,
but also some sour balance, to the dramatic foil.
I'll cut open this delectable, savory, succulent
magnum opus and chew my way through
the gristle, the fatty imagery leading to the tender
center, where all dreams live, fear dies, and
miracles happen right before your eyes. Make me
a tasting menu for the ages - a thriller here, with
just a dash of salt on the pages. A memoir there,
so that the food brings me back to afternoons of
cold gazpacho in a summer monsoon, paired
with cider, and short, tousled bard's hair, when I
would tell my mother and my wife so many stories.
So many stories over chilled lemonade and rum and
coke, while the barbecue kept on belching smoke.
Things were beautiful, and this devoted foodie of
formal fanfare was finally dining and satisfied.
So bake me a casserole with so many character
roles that I bask in the cheesy ensemble. Boil
a saga of toil like a white cream sea where lovers
sail in a ship for three. Toss me a glossary of
new words and homages of fairy tales and mirages,
of kings and sorcerers settling scores in a saucepan.
Spoon me up a mouthful of sci-fi, deep fried
in a futuristic scenery. Or better yet, grill some
fantasy until it's crispy on top but oh, so gooey
in the middle - a cauldron of metaphors that I can
lick clean when the rest of the crumbs are gone.
Sing me a song that goes well with cake and
lemon meringue, or prepare me a waffle
of a Western with an accompanying cowboy
and mustang, and cover it in syrup, I'll chow
down on the details, and I won't slow down
when it comes to the plot twists, so zesty
like red hot chili bliss. I can't go another
day without another scorching hot romance:
Flambé. And don't forget one more delicacy,
like a rich, misunderstood caviar, served up
with champagne at a fancy bar, a roaming tome
stamped with the letters L-G-B-T. Swear to me
that you'll let me copy and share the recipe.
It's so. Damn. Tasty.
Don't worry - I'll help you clean up. I'll do
the dishes, since you did so well at fulfilling
my bibliophile wishes. You sated my cravings
and saved me from a literary binge. And I'll
organize the next banquet for you in return,
because you know that you and I
will have to eat again.