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Sunday, 12 July 2009

Time To Eat Their Words?

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Food writer, Nava Atlas, has opened a new site where she pretends to seek advice from well-known literary women on writing and the writer's life. She uses the blog to "pose the questions, and the Literary Ladies answer in their own words".

This is a great idea – one I wish I’d devised - but I'm now thinking of a celebrated literary gent who was also a great foodie and  who deserves honourable mention on her page. Instead, I’ll talk about him here.

The Rev. Sydney Smith, founder of The Edinburgh Review, is remembered in part for saying his idea of heaven was to eat pate de fois gras to the sound of golden trumpets.

However, he is remembered with equal affection by me for a delightful poem he penned which should also delight Nava as a fellow vegetarian.
Here goes:

The Poet’s Salad

To make this condiment your poet begs

The pounded yellow of two hard-boiled eggs;

Two boiled potatoes, passed through kitchen sieve

Smoothness and softness to the salad give.

Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl

And, half-suspected, animate the whole.

Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,

Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;

But deem it not, thou Man of Herbs, a fault

To add a double quantity of salt;

Four times the spoon with Oil of Lucca crown,

And twice with vinegar procur’d from town.

And lastly o’er the flavoured compound toss

A magic soupcon of anchovy sauce.

Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbaceous treat!

T’would tempt the dying anchorite to eat,

Back to the world he’d turn his fleeting soul,

And plunge his fingers in the salad bowl!

Serenely full, the epicure would say: ‘Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today’.

You can find Nava’s page at:


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