Do You See?

Oatcakes; Food Poetry; Keywords

I had decided not to add any new post today.

Reason 1: I’ve been writing almost everyday here, as if this was a diary. (Note: blog posts and diary entries ought to be two different things, although my mom doesn’t agree — she who never reads my blog!)

Reason 2: I really don’t know how to write about something that maybe considered a “gift”; something that is in the category of food, and something that could trigger poetry — in that order.

Reason 3: at times one doesn’t have the vocabulary to write about certain things. No, I’m not acting dramatic. It’s just that.

Oy vey! I’m still writing about it!

Plain fact: I have received this little pack of “Stockan’s Oatcakes — hand baked oatcakes made from a traditional recipe — using the finest ingredients and pure Orkney water”, original triangular shape in ‘thin’ with no added sugar, as “gift”.  It is food, of course. And a nice thing. Very Scottish, I am told. Has to be nice.

On continuing my discussion on “food poetry” and the concept of “edible poetry” with a few friends elsewhere, the floodgates of opinions, instances and emotions got opened so wide in the context of the oatcakes, that I didn’t know how to contain all that.

Food is not always what we eat. It is also a symbol of life (birth/wedding), death, and of course, love. I bet tomes have been written on all these aspects. From food symbolism in various cultures to food significance in classical Greece! Besides, who can forget Robert Burns’ “Address to a Haggis”? Hey, we are in Scotland, remember. And you’ll find a translation on that link.

One friend brought up the term “lagniappe“, although I wasn’t convinced that qualified as ‘food-gift’.

To demonstrate that food symbolised love, death and life, friends and I quoted William Carlos Williams, Proust’s madeleine, medieval feasts, random songs, self-composed ditties, and so on and so forth. But my honest confession: I really do not know what to write here.

Amid all this uncertainty, a poetry cohort with enough presence of mind Googled up “Stockan’s Oatcakes” and wrote back that this particular item generates the following keywords or phrases (it’s up to me to devise a poem after these words…) — what we poets call poetry trigger:

  • crisp – your nails when they hurt
  • brittle in the suction between the lips
  • stretched at a nibble, as your ear membrane
  • falling off in cracks like the parting of your chest
  • brown, where the sun touched you?
  • underdone, when you took the cover off
  • whole, as your memory
  • crumbs, one gathers once you’re gone
  • left on the counter — someone will come for you, hélas!
  • carefully layered with cheese, let the tongue decide the taste for now

So, what do you think! My poetry cohorts are serious about their job no doubt. Maybe a poem is there. Maybe.


Some more input came in later. Hence this P.S. The shape of the oatcakes also acted as a trigger:

  • Kabuki fans for Noh nights of passion
  • your chin lifted by the sun from behind
  • the ankle where the toe touches slow
  • and the deep deep delta of your body…

A’right. Body. Shape. Texture. Taste. If you have more, add away in the comments box below! I’m going back to sleep for now.


9 comments on “Oatcakes; Food Poetry; Keywords

  1. Do You See
    May 15, 2012

    My writer friend PRITI AISOLA wrote this for the discussion on FB. She is shy to paste it here I think, but I’ll take the liberty…

    ‘Quel goût!’ – Priti Aisola

    If my words were Gruyère
    or Camembert, any other cheese
    that dallies on your taste buds,
    you’d smack your lips
    and say, ‘Quel goût!’

    But my words are chutney
    made of ridge-gourd peels
    Sputtering like mustard in oil
    fibrous in texture
    Green chili sharp, tamarind sour
    Fenugreek bitter, achari
    Asafoetida pungent

    They fox your taste buds
    tease your memory
    of other dallliances
    and you say, ‘Good …
    but a bit mixed the flavors.’

  2. albert geiser
    May 16, 2012

    No. 3 Dark

    syrup of a fragrance
    mouths tasting of the maple in the night
    the syrup of the fragrance
    holds its own in a tulip tree grove among tall maples in an afernoon
    and other places
    when things get very slow and loaded far
    from a hometown kissing night in a vast space
    from a Greyhound
    the surprise of the maple syrup bottle gift
    her chemical engineer’s eye
    studying its observable properties
    through the glass
    at night both of us realizing its succor
    then the languorous walking across grass
    in a heavy dark
    to the tanic Raquette River
    the night with only sheets
    a cool night in Late May
    a donation provided a TV and only sheets
    with a cable subscription
    we turned on the TV
    then went out to a Costco for her to buy
    clothes for the next day her first in her new
    hometown, and we brought back ice cream
    and ate it after pouring the maple syrup on it
    her chemical engineers eye
    studying what I could possibly be doing
    spending a life unattached to employer
    or study or a spouse
    we never brought up dance or music
    two serious sorts meeting
    the opened syrup bottle dropped on the floor
    when we grabbed each other
    and in the night coming back from the bathroom
    she put one foot in it and laughed in the sheet
    she had not told her spouse she would leave him
    and she was done with him
    before she left for the United States
    mine was an offhand thought at first
    to search to get a good maple syrup within an hour
    and a half before going to visit
    the woman who was newly arriving


    copyright c. Albert Geiser all rights reserved

  3. Do You See
    May 16, 2012

    many thanks for posting this. Like the narrative a lot. Maple syrup is something I’m deeply familiar with. I’m glad you took my food-poetry cue and wrote this. Perhaps you’d like to work some stanza breaks or some cool enjambment …? I think it’ll read even better then. Just a suggestion. I’ve come across a site where there are gallons of “wine poetry”. Will post once I’m done reading. Going back to my mundane deadline submissions and fellowship proposals. Survival of the poet, you see. Continue this later. – ND

  4. albert geiser
    May 17, 2012

    Yes, I want to do more with this one. Wrote this in a day after your cue, and I’m very grateful you asked. I’ve been thinking about more to do with it. I’ll work in enjambment I should post the next version here? I like discussing poetry here knowing now your blog. Let me know the wine poetry site.. Lately I try to think in plants and foods native to North America. Do you know maple syrup from Ithaca? Up in the North Country there’s a strong case made that much of what Vermont passes for its own syrup is acquired from the North Country. My mother painted a North Country maple sugar house and for awhile I had the painting, but after my mother died a restaurant which had the painting at the time in its dining room wanted to keep it and I let them without debate. It looked nice there and I thought the painting going with me in my sometimes uncertain movements would not necessarily be so great. Now the restaurant is gone. Someone somewhere must have the painting….. Albert

    here? Let

  5. Do You See
    May 18, 2012

    I encountered No. 3 Dark on a visit to Quebec City. Upstate NY does have a lot of maple syrup. Even hands on syrup collecting/making workshops. Glad you shared that story about your mother and her painting. Too bad though it is gone…
    Do share your revised poem or any other around the theme or a new theme. I don’t want to keep this blog strictly as a poetry site. For you might have already guessed, there are obscure personal musings here too. But poetry is welcome any time. I’d be erratic in checking or commenting. But you never know, maybe someone will join in some time and keep the conversation going. Thanks a lot 🙂

  6. albert geiser
    May 19, 2012

    Where is the Ben Johnson food poem?? Looking for it…

    • Do You See
      May 19, 2012

      See the link I posted on your FB page Albert… Or, go to the home page of this site. See the new post, the very first one!

  7. albert geiser
    May 19, 2012

    I used No. 3 Dark to say that the speaker went across the border from the U.S. to Canada to get the maple syrup, went far to find the gift…Going far to find the gift, and the person receiving the gift has come far..

  8. albert geiser
    May 19, 2012

    Because No. 3 Dark is the Canadian classification. The U.S. classification is in As.. And also Vermont has its very own classification.

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2012 by in food poetry, Nabina Das, poetry, Scotland, Stockan's Oatcakes.
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