Monday, January 15, 2007

Of Tomatoes and My Psyche






"I'll try, God knows I'll try
but if anyone watches me I'll scream
because maybe I'm handling a tomato wrong,
how can I know if I'm handling a tomato wrong?"



The above lines are from Gwendolyn MacEwen’s poem Memoirs of a Mad Cook. If you read them, you’ll have gained some insight as to my approach to cooking and food preparation.

(You can read the poem in its entirety here. Note – there’s a typo in the first line with this link.)

I think of these particular lines every single time I cut up a tomato. Unbelievable. And I read this poem back in the 70’s. When I was younger, I actually did wonder if I was handling a tomato incorrectly. Years (and many tomatoes) later, I don’t really care but I still remember those lines. Actually, to be honest, I do sort of care if someone is watching me.

Funny how some things stay with us despite the passage of time. And not so funny how some things seem to have disappeared. I’d be far better off remembering names (and certain words) than MacEwan’s “tomato” poem.

I’m now wondering if this poem might be responsible for my aversion and “madness” regarding kitchen duty. I was very impressionable way back when.

But how marvelous to have a literary excuse for my culinary limitations!

11 comments:

oreneta said...

I only wish I had a poetic excuse for my cooking....

Have you ever read MFK Fisher? She is a brillian writter, a traveler, and a foodie. She isn't really writing about food though.

One good one, How to Cook a Wolf, I liked particularily, and fits nicely with your poetic reasoning.

Megan said...

You cannot blame the literary world for your aversion to the culinary world - it is, in fact, a genetic thing................!

Beth said...

hey, can I use that excuse too? sounds good to me!

I love tomatoes, still warm from the garden..if I can get them in the house before I eat them!

Steven Novak said...

Off all the excuses I've heard for being a bad cook, this one is asily the best. ;)

Steve~

Beth said...

oreneta: If MFK is a "foodie" I don't want to read her work. It would be too depressing. As for "How To Cook a Wolf," that sounds doable except the sound of wolves howling at the cottage terrifies me.

megan: If it's genetic, how come I got it worse than you?

beth: You are very welcome to use that excuse! Eating them in the garden? At least you can't do that wrong...

steve: Yeah, it's a great excuse, isn't it? I love it. I'm going with it...

oreneta said...

I wouldn't call her a foodie, she writes about a lot more, but she does write about food. Very well. There are no actual wolves in that book, it was written after the war, and the wolf is hunger with rationing, and shortages. How to eat elegantly, or not so elegantly, within the situation. She doesn't rhapsodize endlessly about some obscure cheese from a tiny mountain valley in the Urals that is only available through obscure and incredibly expensive mail order companies out of Manhatten if that is what you mean by a foodie.

Beth said...

oreneta: That's exactly what I mean by a "foodie." That, and someone who loves to cook. But I checked out the book on Amazon.ca - put it on my "wish list."

msp said...

When 2 out of 3 females from the same family hate cooking then that proves it must be genetic. Maybe in our next life OR we were already famous culinary chefs in our past life!?

Beth said...

msp: Yeah, that's it! I've already been a great chef in a past life and now I'm on to another kind of life. The next level...not sure what it is though...

Baron Ectar said...

I just burn everything I cook then everybody kicks me out of the kitchen!

Beth said...

baron: Hmm...well thought out plan.
I think it's too late for me to start now. I'd probably be committed as a pyro.