14lewis POEM OF THE WEEK: The Only True Lovers Are Chefs or Happy Birthday, Edna Lewis by Nikki Giovanni

Edna Lewis, Chef (pictured above)

It is practically amazing///a show of immense proportions . . . more awe inspiring . . . more death defying . . . more dangerous than hanging from some very thin rope at the top of the very big tent . . . more difficult than putting the lions and tigers in the same cage . . . more better than anything at all///that mothers cook meals each day for ungrateful children and spouses

If we were fair about it///we would enclose all kitchens in glass . . . so that the passers by would stop and wonder at the Ralston’s bubbling in the Pyrex double boiler each morning and the beauty of the four plates stacked against the four glasses tucking the forks and knives with that wonderful gentle touch of a napkin just kissing the edge///if we were really fair we would hold contests for the ordinary housewife who is not an ordinary anything but a working mother though we recognize immediately that there is no concept of a working father though we all are told men have families too se that we might reward the best housewife with some sort of Silver Plate and the best housemother with a Silver Child and he best working housewifemother with a Silver Husband studded with rubies and sapphires and one ¼ carat diamond///if we were fair about it

But this is about love and there can be no better loving than bread pudding oh sure I know some people who think bread pudding is just food but some people also think creamed corn comes in a can and they have never known the pure ecstasy of slicing down the thicker end of an ear of silver queen that was just picked at five or six this very same morning then having sliced it down so very neatly you take the back of the knife and pull it all back up releasing that wonderful milk to the bowl to which you add a nice of garlic and some fresh ground pepper which you then turn into a gently lit skillet and you shimmer it all like eggs then put a piece of aluminum foil over it and let it rest while you put your hands at the small of your back and go “Whew” and ain’t that love that soaks cold chicken wings in buttermilk and gets the heavy iron pot out an d puts just the right pat of lard in it at the high temperature so that when you dust the wings with a little seasoned flour the lard sizzles and cracks while the wings turn all golden on the outside and juicy on the inside and yes I’d say that’s all right cause that other stuff anybody can do and if you do it long enough you can do it either well or adequately but cooking///now that is something you learn from your heart then make your hands do what your grandmother’s hands did and I still don’t trust anyone who makes meatloaf with instruments cause the meat is to be turned with your hands and while this may not be a traditional love poem let me just say one small thing for castor oil and Vicks VapoRub and “How is my little baby feeling today?” after a hard day’s work so yes this is a love poem of the highest order because the next best cook in the world, my grandmother being the best, just had a birthday and all the asparagus and wild greens and quail and tomatoes on the vines an little peas in spring and half runners in early summer and all the wonderful musty things that come from the ground said EDNA LEWIS is having a birthday and all of us who love all of you who love food wish her a happy birthday because we who are really smart know that chefs make the best lovers . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . especially when they serve it with oysters on the half shell.

The Only True Lovers Are Chefs or Happy Birthday Edna Lewis, from Love Poems, by Nikki Giovanni


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