|Our editor, Emma Wood, is about to send out a call for submissions for the December Food issue. I have copied the letter she is sending to contributors and honor roll recipients, below. Since we are publishing the December issue as part of our Print Annual we have to have all the material selected and designed for print in October. Emma has given October 10 as the deadline for food-related submissions for this food/holiday issue.|
Emma, in her call for submissions, includes links to images and poetry to give you some inspiration. Please click through to her links.
I have included this painting by an Italian painter, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who was born in Milan in 1527. Arcimboldo is known for his imaginative portraits. Or, one might say, insane portraits! Here is link to all of Arcimboldo's portraits. I think it is fair to say that Arcimboldo thought "outside the box." As an artist, a photographer, a writer, a composer, I encourage you to always stretch yourself. If you have an insane idea—follow through on it! I can't guarantee that Emma will publish it—but you have nothing to lose.This is a Food issue timed for the holidays. So, we are definitely looking for stories that revolve around food. Memories that revolve around food. When I was a child, we would often go to my grandmother's house for Sunday dinner. We'd come a couple of hours early. She had a box of marbles. I played with them—not a game with or against anyone—but I always enjoyed looking at them and hitting them against each other. She had a sunroom that opened up onto a back garden where there was pond with goldfish. I spent lots of time sitting on the mossy rocks surrounding the pond looking at those fish.
But, my deepest memory is that in that sun room we ate blue cheese—Danish Blue—on Nabisco Triscuit crackers. The smell of that cheese instantly brings me back to being twelve, and to those lovely late afternoon Sundays at my grandmother's house. For those of you who live in Los Angeles, she lived in one of those big boxy houses on Highland Avenue.
The dinners were formal. My grandmother had a cook. The cook always made Parker House Rolls which she served in a basket as she walked around the table to offer each of us one. I don't recall anything else about what was served except the dessert. The dessert of my memory is a floating island. (It couldn't really have been every dinner at grandmother's house, though, perhaps because I liked it so much, it was!) I always sat with my back to a wall of west facing windows. The kitchen door was to my left. The cook entered through the kitchen door bringing the floating island in and putting it in the center of the table. White clouds of poached egg floated in a custard. If you don't know this dessert, the custard is a basic vanilla custard, called "Créme Anglaise." I tried to make the floating island recently for my daughter but failed miserably. Frankly, my attempt was a disaster. Poaching those lightly sweetened egg whites that float on the custard isn't so easy!
These Sunday dinners took place fifty, even fifty-five years ago. The blue cheese and the floating island take me back to this time. One aspect of those evenings that I did not understand then is that there was always this tall, stooped, silent older man. I honestly don't recall ever having said a word to him or hearing him speak. So, I am thinking that he must have been very old and unwell during those years. My parents said that he was my grandmother's "companion." I am named after him. Both my first and second names. My middle name memorializes the city he was born in. It is odd, thinking back on it, that I met my namesake, but never really met him. In writing this, I now remember that I'd greet him with the old fashioned, "Pops."
As it turns out, these Sunday meals were the last meals that we all had together as a family. When I was around thirteen, my grandmother, who was a chain smoker, had a debilitating stroke. My mother died when I was in college. My brother, sister, and I all moved away, and, to be honest, moved apart. My father died a few years ago at 93. Some of the strongest memories I have of my family, including silent Pops, is at my grandmother's house for Sunday dinner.
One thing that is interesting about the Sunday dinners at my grandmother's is that its meaning has changed with time. Had I written about those meals when I was your age it would have been a story that was in the moment. Of course, you don't need to write about a meal that has really happened in your life. What Emma is asking for are stories, poems, or images in which food is an important element—and so there may not even be a meal in them, at all.
Until next week