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Jessica Piazza
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Thanksgiving has come to its inevitable end, and my family has finally departed, ferried to their several Brooklyn-bound flights and safely landed. This means I can now do three things: 1) clean 2) sleep 3) plan a blog post recapping the insanity that was this week. Rest assured, I'm doing all of them. Until then: A FAREWELL TO FRIENDS after Nikolai Zabolotsky Yes, the man is a tower of birds, I write my friends into earth, into earth, into earth. There, with lantern in hand, a beetle-man greets his acquaintances. You stand in white hats, long jackets, with notebooks of poems, you have for sisters wild carnations, nipples of lilacs, splinters and chickens. Go now, I will write a biography of rain, the pages turn -- your first steps across the room. (Ilya Kaminsky) Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
I spent a lot of time today thinking about my intentions for tomorrow's feast. The way I want the table to look, who should sit where, how I should time every dish, course, segment of our evening. In the end, some of those intentions will be realized and some will certainly not. Every Thanksgiving has been made both better and worse by things going off-plan. (I think here, first, of the oft dragged-up story of the year we ate at midnight because I didn't know how to cook a turkey, and also of the time a squirrel ate the pie crust I had cooling on the porch, but also of that one Thanksgiving when we played impromtu charades and laughed hysterically for an hour.) More appropriately, though, I it also made me think about poetry, and how I often sit down with a prompt, or a plan, but only sometimes go that path. Writing formal poetry is one way of working according to plan. Thematic poems, too. But even starting with a last line, or an organizing image...that's organization of a sort. I rarely if ever write completely free, and I'm entirely curious about people who do. How does anything *go* anywhere? I couldn't do it. Some friends I know couldn't start with a plan or everything they write feels contrived. But--okay, and here's my own plan veering off course--you know what, kids? I think I might beg my wonderful hosts at BAP to give me more than a week of blogging. Because I swear I have lots of deeply-considered and potentially interesting things to say to all of you, but right now I'm about to fall face first into the huge stock pot of autumn soup. (A recipe, by the way, I stole from my wonderful friend, the amazing poet Rebecca Lindenberg.) Yeah. See, my family arrived today. En masse. From Brooklyn. They haven't been cooking, no, but they have been talking. Loudly. And borrowing my car and stealing my bed. And arranging my furniture. (It's already arranged the way I want it, of course.) God, I love them. God, they are A LOT of a lot of a lot. And Jillybean and I will be waking up at 5:30 to prep and cook the turkey. Woo, Lord. Woo, we're thankful and tired. So, here. I'll leave you with some fun, maybe. And an explanation of the title. Jilly's idea of blue (butternut) humor: And bleary-eyed, after yet another trip to the market: And a poem. I love William Matthews a lot, but this poem will be filed in the "what we're NOT doing this week" section of this blog post: On A Diet BY WILLIAM MATTHEWS Eat all you want but don’t swallow it. —Archie Moore The ruth of soups and balm of sauces I renounce equally. What Rorschach saw in ink I find in the buttery frizzle in the sauté pan, and I leave it behind, and the sweet peat-smoke tang of bananas, and cream in clots,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
It's the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, kids. And you know what that means? Onions. A FUCKTON of onions. Below you'll find one of my favorite recipes (and the impetus for said onion-chopping), an amazing poem by the lovely Suji Kwock Kim called "Monologue for an Onion," and a question that is all together too personal. I hope you'll answer it. And I very much hope you're having fun out there, celebrators. Caramelized Onion Quiche (recipe makes two quiches) INGREDIENTS: 6 large eggs 2 cups heavy cream 8 ounces shredded Parmesan (or more, depending on your taste) 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (strangely, this works better than fresh in the recipe because it mixes throughout better….you can also add some fresh if you like, too, but it’s not necessary) 1/2 cup butter, plus extra for greasing pan 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 7 medium-sized Vidalia onions, thinly sliced Two 9" pie or quiche crusts (recipe of your choice. If you need a good one, let me know.) 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two pie/quiche crusts in pie plates using the recipe of your choice In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, cream and Parmesan, reserving about 3 ounces of the parmesan cheese for later. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cayenne, and garlic. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture and set aside. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until caramelized. This will take forever. Stir the onion mixture into the egg mixture and spoon into the pie crusts. DO NOT OVERFILL crusts as the pudding will rise some while setting. (TIP: There is often leftover quiche filling. You can freeze any leftover it in a freezer safe container and thaw it out to use as a quick brunch or dinner dish. After you thaw it, you can put it in another pie crust, use a pre-made crust or cook the mixture alone in a casserole dish--it will set just fine without crust.) Bake until the pudding is set, about 30-40 minutes. Add parmesan and mozzarella to the top when pudding is just set and cook until brown and bubbly. Monologue for an Onion by Suji Kwock Kim I don't mean to make you cry. I mean nothing, but this has not kept you From peeling away my body, layer by layer, The tears clouding your eyes as the table fills With husks, cut flesh, all the debris of pursuit. Poor deluded human: you seek my heart. Hunt all you want. Beneath each skin of mine Lies another skin: I am pure onion--pure union Of outside and in, surface and secret core. Look at you, chopping and weeping. Idiot. Is this the way you go through life, your mind A stopless knife, driven by your fantasy of truth, Of lasting union--slashing away skin... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Hi again, interweb friends. It’s been a while! Last time we met I was driving cross-country with Joshua Rivkin, my extraordinary poet friend, and Special the Dog, my extraordinary canine friend. Remember? It was glorious: pedal to the floor, highway cops and border patrols, fast food joints and junk museums and the wide open maw of the road springboarding us collectively into a week of adventure, literary rumination and general high-jinx. But this week? This Thanksgiving week, during which both my family and a bevy of friends will take to road and sky (and full-body scanners) to convene—drunkenly, and with many opinions--in your harried heroine’s humble West LA abode, anticipating a sit down feast of approximately 25 guests? Yeah, that’s a whole different kind of party. And let me add: it’s exactly MY kind of party, indeed. Because, firstly, Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday. No gift-giving, no cow-towing to a God or gods, damn few rituals that don’t involve imbibing or ingesting or lazing or lounging or chatting happily with loved ones….to me, this is a perfect storm of perfect. Add to that my obsession with both cooking and eating food, and we have a winner. This year’s spread will, of course, feature my annual favorites. You’ll find the obligatory organic, free-range turkey (24 pounds this year!), sausage apple stuffing, caramelized onion quiche, squash and zucchini with fresh tarragon, roasted bliss potatoes with garlic and rosemary, pumpkin cheesecake and so much more. But this year I’m also adding a host of new additions, in the form of dishes like sweet potato latkes with fried sage, baked macaroni and cheese, and creamed onions. My friends and family will provide their holiday favorites to supplement the meal: from Alexis’ pernil to Josh’s balsamic brussel sprouts to Jenny’s stuffed dates (and so on, and so forth.) But you know what? We’ll get into specifics on this stuff later, food porn lovers, so fear not. Most importantly, my mother and sister and their husbands are trekking out from Brooklyn to join in the fun. Kids, let me just say, I can’t remember the last time the three of us spent Thanksgiving in the same place. That particular brand of trash-talking and hysterical laughing and cursing and making fun of ourselves and others has not graced my Los Angeles table even once in the four years I’ve lived here. Which is why, by the way, I’ve titled this journey the Bildungsroman Holiday. In a way, this week is my own coming of age. Thanksgiving is my holiday….every year I cook and prep and open my home to everyone, from new acquaintances to my dearest friends--even sometimes to people I’ve never met but who I’ve heard need somewhere to be. This is important to me: I do my damndest to make sure everyone feels at home, even when their actual hometowns are far away. But in all this, I’ve never had my own most beloved family—my mother, my sister, two of my first cousins and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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Nov 22, 2010