The Language of Food

Sashimi. Injera. Pasta e fagioli. Tagine. Bibimbap.

How many tongues can you access only through the language of food? How many minutes could you commune with a family at a foreign table, supported only with the language of food? What ancient miracle can you invoke by calling out “godisgood“? Let poems and stories ferment in your mind. Our next submissions period, opening August 1st, will focus on food.

Design by Deb Dulin

Design by Deb Dulin

As a brewer and baker, I feel food to be a powerful and lively symbol. The acts of producing these ancient and fundamental foods connects me through all of my senses with humans everywhere and everywhen. When I am kneading my dough, I feel a duty to French refugees in Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s “Flight to Arras” who do not flee their homes for fear of invading Nazis, but because the town’s baker has already evacuated. When I feed flour to my levain, I feel a duty to Martín Espada’s oppressed and downtrodden whose symbol of salvation is the angels of bread. I draw a deep meaning from this duty. As I wrote to a friend today, “If I don’t bake, the village will starve.”

A few years ago, I was a student in a workshop taught by Stanley Plumly who had given us the prompt of writing an homage. One week later, a student shared a poem with us expressing her gratitude to everyone who has ever shared food with her. Listening to her read, I thought of my father, whose expressions of love through careful cooking were unintelligible against my expectations of games of catch and a treehouse. I thought of  homes where I’d felt most welcome once invited for dinner. I thought of the chocolate chip cookies a friend baked me as a parting gift, sustaining me during a drive from Minneapolis to Portland with a maxed-out credit card and too little cash.

I remain mindful of that poem and Saint-Exupéry and Martín Espada, not only for the beauty of their language and expression, but for the effect they have in putting me in contact with one of the most concrete and tangible conduits we have for experiencing and sharing life—food. I am certain that the contributions of the LPR community that will create this issue will only broaden and deepen these feelings of mine, and already I cannot thank you enough for that.

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