(Author's note: A couple of months ago Saveur.com asked for my favorite food poems along with a brief introduction. This piece ran yesterday.)
Had he but world enough, and time, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin would have added a selection of gastronomical poems to his magnum opus The Physiology of Taste to demonstrate “the inseparable alliance which has always existed between the arts of speaking well and eating well.”
Scratch a poet, find a gourmand. “The true Muses are cooks,” writes
Charles Simic. Every aspect of gastronomy, from planting to harvest to cooking to eating, has inspired poets for centuries; poets are sensualists, and these are among life's most sensual experiences.
Like much gastronomical writing, poetry about food is often about something else: memory, sex, joy, love, shame, longing, loss. The simple detail of food can concentrate the emotion in a poem, like the couple cooking for themselves alone in William Matthews' Misgivings. A food reference can quicken our most primitive emotions: Keats's stanza-long description of wine, "Tasting of Flora and the country-green, / Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!" makes longing palpable.
Continue reading here.
What are your favorite food poems? I'd love to add to my collection. -- sdh