Food – a haibun

A haibun for the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

Food – A Haibun
I don’t often write about when I was a chef. But my love affair with food is still running wild and unfettered. The fields of produce, the trees with fruit, the bakeries and butchers – all of them still lead me ever onward. We all have a comfort food, the food that says home or safe place or happiness. I know I do and the list grows longer every year. The feel in my hand of a warm freshly picked tomato or an egg still warm from the body of the hen sends a frisson of comfort down to my toes. The smell of my father’s fried chicken still lingers years after he died, the taste of a sharp acidic North Carolina tomato makes me almost orgasm when I taste it for the first time in summer, the taste of butter on bread or slurping a long noodle out of broth, stuffing a burrito into my mouth, or eating a big bun full of barbecue makes me happy in a way I cannot describe.

Food is what brings us together. It also separates us but food at its basic level brings us together. What we fix for someone tells us a lot about us to the person eating our food. We always give our best when we fix food for someone else; the food may be biscuits and gravy or Beluga caviar on toast points or fried rice or carne asada – it doesn’t matter. On some level I think we want to show off but on another, I think we want to say to the other person: “This is me. Please accept me.” I never refuse anything I am offered or say, I don’t eat that. I believe when we do that we are rejecting the person or culture offering the bite. I wish we could all sit around a huge table and share the food of our wealth, our poverty, our happiness, our grief. Pass the plates one to another, look each other in the eyes.  If we can’t do that then I feel we are all of us are well and truly lost.

seasons changing –
water to wine to juice –
we all are one

public domain

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sanaarizvi
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 12:26:16

    This is incredibly heartening, Toni 💞 and yes you are right food definitely brings us together! 😊

    Reply

  2. Herotomost
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 12:55:40

    What a wonderful and warm look and food and being a chef. You hit the nail on the head I think and through food and gathering and stories and commonplace, we can really make a difference in peoples lives. eating a microwave mac and cheese on the couch by yourself will never bring that kind of warmth and presence. Great write!!

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Jul 03, 2018 @ 13:21:10

      Thank you. I am reminded of a woman with whom I worked spontaneously asking me to her home. We talked and laughed, two women together. All she had on hand was a microwave Mac and cheese, a few pickles, and an apple. We shared it. It was one if the best meals in my life.

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  3. Sherry Marr
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 13:12:52

    I love the message in this, Toni, and am reminded of travelers in foreign lands where people who have so little generously offer all they have to guests. The universal language of food crosses all boundaries – removes them.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Jul 03, 2018 @ 13:18:38

      And even in this country among people who have so little. I am reminded of a poor woman who said the best thing about her community was if someone was hungry, they’d ask you for a sandwich and the worst thing that would happen was when you didn’t have the sandwich to share.

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  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 14:06:59

    I have so often found that food is an amazing way to break barriers between cultures… when I was in Japan on my first visit I had a host for the complete time. The first evening we met at a TGIF and he asked me if I wanted to eat there, I explained that I much preferred to taste and learn about Japanese food… that meant a complete week of testing everything (both lunch and dinner)…

    I also told him about my own experiences trying to cook Japanese at home… what really impressed him was was that we had made our own tofu from soybeans… and I still remember his question. Did you eat the okara? I answered that we fried it… and enjoyed it.

    Then he told me that this residue was almost impossible to get, and the only time he had anything cooked from okara was at his grandmother’s kitchen.

    Food and cooking is like building bridges.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Jul 03, 2018 @ 14:19:44

      Post a is good stuff. I admit I am lazy and buy tofu. I do make my own udon though! Food is a great bridge builder. My dear Swedish neighbors and I have traded food for several years. Friends!

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  5. coalblack
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 14:38:27

    A perfect post for the (almost) 4th of July when so many will be gathering around tables. I’m with you, I never refuse any meal I am offered. Besides being willing to try things, I agree that it’s personal. I only ever refuse the thing I am allergic to cos I don’t want to die! 😉

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Jul 03, 2018 @ 15:40:29

      And things proscripted by religion although I haven’t keep kosher for decades.

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    • kanzensakura
      Jul 03, 2018 @ 15:44:06

      And things proscripted by religion. I have not kept kosher for decades though. The haiku at the end is raccoon approved. I could have done better on it.

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  6. annell4
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 16:29:27

    So good to remember we are all one. Dressed a best we can, I am you and you are me. We all have to eat, and no one should be hungry. You stand under the tree, extend your open hand to me, in your other you hold a sign, which states the children are hungry, Mom is asking for your help. I scramble through my purse for a few bills for you. I can’t solve your problems, it is for us all to work together to see no one is hungry. Our hard hearted leaders should not cut the money for your food, or perhaps they have no hearts, or their hearts are dead, cold and should be put underground.

    Reply

  7. Victoria C. Slotto
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 16:38:57

    It does seem that food brings so much to a relationship. I have some significant digestive issues due to meds I take for my transplant and my sweet husband goes out of his way to find and create foods I can take–for example, to prepare a pumpkin pie I can enjoy for Thanksgiving, he evaporates lactose free milk for me–a slow, low heat process. This is just one of the ways he says “I love you.” And maybe you could send me some of those NC tomatoes. No need really–his are growing well, nurtured as I am.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Jul 03, 2018 @ 17:04:54

      I bet he does nurture you! I imagine his tomatoes taste pretty Good! I love cooking for those I love. It is joy not work anymore

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  8. Vivian Zems
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 18:29:07

    From food porn to a homely rallying cry for unity…I like how your haibun travelled. I agree that food in it’s prep and sharing…is an extension of who we are. Love the haiku…water to wine to juice…bravo!

    Reply

  9. Jim
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 19:38:41

    Loved the prose, Toni. Comfort food isn’t a new term for me, I acknowledge I have a few. My earliest, which still mention from time, is a “Corn Crib Sundae.” A nice chocolate brownie slice topped by a large dip of vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, then a marcino cherry at very top. At the U of Nebraska in my day The Student Center had a light food and soda fountain named “The Corn Crib.” We met there and socialized. I also played chess there. Layer story. That is all gone now, a fast food court, vending machines, and micro waves replaced the Crib.
    My current is from a box, Ramon Shrimp Noodle soup, for 29 cents each. I add 4-5 shrimp, cut up, and a third cup of frozen green peas. On the small cutting board the other of the 13 or 14 shrimp, cocktail sauce, a block of cheddar cheese, and saltine crackers. Perhaps a drink. Mrs. Jim won’t eat them because of the high sodium content in the soup. Sometimes she will have six shrimp.
    I cook man food, hambergers, hot dogs with cedar, mustard, with with relish or saurcraut, turkey and Swiss sandwiches, or ham and cheese, grilled. I also make various versions of egg sandwiches usually with cheese and one-minute micro waved eggs. I make a nice chili soup. Also oyster stew and once people asked for my pizza with home made crust dough. When I got the pizza perfected I stopped making it. I can follow recipes but Mrs. Jim loves to cook gourmet.
    TMI? 🙂
    ..

    Reply

  10. oldegg
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 20:00:39

    It is always a delight to eating at other countries tables. In Australia we have such a mixed population that every big town and city has a wide choice of restaurants to match their population mix.

    Reply

  11. mhmp77
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 21:40:08

    kaykuala

    We all have a comfort food,
    the food that says home or
    safe place or happiness

    Food can be the source of so much differences in tastes,wants and choices even when served the same thing at the same time to two people! It is too personal to be argued about!

    Hank

    Reply

  12. thotpurge
    Jul 03, 2018 @ 22:00:01

    That made me hungry.. food is a great way to start the experience of other cultures.. always make it a point to savour the local fare in a new country…

    Reply

  13. kim881
    Jul 04, 2018 @ 02:26:01

    Oh yes, Toni, world peace through sharing food! I miss eating with friends and family. For the last week or so I’ve been eating alone again (my husband has been busy and has been away in Italy for a few days) and I haven’t enjoyed food so much. Cooking for and eating with others is such a pleasure. However, if I hadn’t been eating fruit and yogurt for breakfast while reading your haibun, my stomach would have grumbled!

    Reply

  14. clayandbranches
    Jul 04, 2018 @ 04:05:16

    Food is indeed what brings us together, for better or worse. Love that image of looking one another in the eye while passing the plates–a ritual of communion. We have a chance as long as we eat together.

    Reply

  15. Magaly Guerrero
    Jul 04, 2018 @ 14:12:45

    Food is definitely a teller of tales… It brings to life all sorts of things–what lies inside, how things fair on the outside.

    Reply

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