ABOUT THE BOOK

 


Each season we bring you a taste from our sumptuous gathering of seasonal recipes, culinary poetry, and literary fare.

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Cooking with the Muse is a cookbook for all book lovers and lovers of food. This cook’s literary book is also a book lover’s cookbook. It is full of seasonal recipes, related poems and lore about food, commentaries on poems, delectable historical and linguistic information, and musings that celebrate the pleasures of life. Here are rich reflections on the arts of selecting ingredients, cooking and eating, reading and writing, and the promotion of health and ecological sustainability. Cooking with the Muse is a cookbook that is also a literary feast and a guidebook to the seasons, the splendors, the sustenance, and the spirit of our lives.

The emphasis here is on the richness and abundance of foods and words with which we can nourish our bodies, our senses, our hearts, and our minds. The recipes highlight fresh, local ingredients, including copious seasonal produce, traditional fats, wild seafood, and meat from pasture-raised animals. The flavors meanwhile are global, ranging from Turkish to American Southwestern to Japanese to Vietnamese to Italian, and we celebrate the cross-fertilization of culinary cultures.

Evocations of the glories of ingredients, cooking, and food in general play a surprisingly rich role in literature, especially among the poets, including a dazzling pageant of modern and contemporary writers. Cooking with the Muse offers those who enjoy cookbooks for their own sake entrée into the deeply imaginative, meditative, and nurturing landscapes of the poet; and to those who savor literature, entrée into the richly rewarding world of the cook—the art of preparing an anthology of seasonal dishes. For the writers featured here, these arts have always been mirrors of each other.

This book is written for readers ranging from the locavore to the omnivore, from the greenhorn cook to the well-versed chef, from those who have barely ever tasted a poem to well-seasoned teachers and writers. Here recipes served with keynote poems, appetizing preambles, and informative Poet’s Notes and Cook’s Notes can be savored in their own right even before a single dish is prepared. Yet even for the dreamy gazer and lover of words, clear, well-tested, and detailed steps to a table of mouthwatering dishes await and beckon. There is something here for everyone—because poetry and food are for everyone; we all have what one poet calls “A seat…at the common table.”

Dishes presented in each division are delicious and complex in flavor, yet the recipes are straightforward and easy to follow. The recipes are also matched and cross-referenced to provide entire well-rounded menus, so that you, the reader, can prepare sumptuous meals to eat, live, and celebrate well from dawn to dusk throughout the year.

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