A short list of my college learning:
you can drink bad beer when it’s free,
you can’t cram for finals on caffeine alone,
you can watch Star Trek episodes for the nth time,
you can make spaghetti sauce out of ketchup,
Naval ROTC cadets make great radio engineers,
even the news director gets free LPs,
mescaline is not advised for exam pep,
0.98 GPA requires negotiation to remain,
English can be an accidental major.
A short list of my college missed learning:
fail calculus if you never go to class
formal organic chemistry, not self-applied,
not reading any Chaucer before writing the final paper
grad schools look at GPA, not just GRE,
sleeping through morning classes not a good strategy,
Medieval history is boring,
Symbolic logic is anything but.
Conclusion: Got the diploma so
parents money well invested.classes
My repertoire was so much wider then
for that is the mis-appreciated burden of youth.
My bookshelves groaned under the weight
of a couple of hundred cookbooks, tomes focused
on the apple, fish, chicken, or on isolated corners
of what seemed to me to be an infinitely large world.
Azeri food seemed a continent apart from Persian,
never mind the neighborhood connections.
I recall the endless hours spent
pounding veal as Escoffier demanded,
and when all else failed, a decent cut of beef
swaddled in a compound butter sauce, Bearnaise, or Choron.
I don’t know if culinary wisdom comes with age,
but the demands of an aging body, carefully listened to,
calls for the seismic shift, and if allowed
a casting aside of marbled beef, paper thin veal,
marbled end papers, pages of instructions.
I don’t recall what moment to lead to epiphany,
the giving away of salmon, taking up tofu
and the joy of creating, not re-creating, of paying
homage to cuisine, no longer being its slave.
As the last
of the wine glasses
is put back on the shelf
the Brut recorked
and the dishes set
in the tray to dry
we take a slow walk
after the meal
hoping the arrabiatta sauce
will be less angry,
the pasta less weighty,
when we arrive
back home to the sofa
and the purring cat
distracting us from
the beckoning of the bed.
He said, “I’m looking forward
to heaven for a reason you cannot
begin to imagine, and, not
that I want to rush my arrival.”
She said, “It’s rather audacious
to assume you’ll end up there,
I place the odds as at best at
50-50 and I’m being generous
because I’m still in love with you.”
“But you’ll never guess the reason
so I’ll just have to tell you.
You know how much I love
rich buttery sauces, the more
butter and ] heavy cream the better?
In heaven I can have all I want
without worry about cholesterol
and arteriosclerosis and that would
certainly be heaven to me.”
“You realize,” she replied, “that
there’s a better than even chance
that God as creator of everything
might just be a vegetarian, like
we all were in the garden, so
Just in case, eat your Brussels sprouts.”
You want it spicy, but just so that
the tongue remembers it a moment
after the mouth has moved on, a lingering
sense of having been present.
It should be a mantilla, a shawl,
not the blanket some claim, gently
caressing, lighting up the plate.
Its host, freshly from the rollers,
was born for this moment,
and welcomes its friend, and
the teeth of its visitors, accompanied
by the grapes carefully pressed
and aged for this occasion.
The tomatoes sigh as the last
of the arrabiatta is consumed
and evening slips quietly into dreams.