Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mustard Poem

I wrote this to help kick off our last Wild Goose Creative, Too Many Cooks! event which was completely mustard centric. It was quite the evening: fun, frivolity and copius amounts of mustard!

Mustard Poem
by Ryan Hoke

I still remember the sandwich.

Turkey on rye with lettuce, tomato, and sprouts.

Ladies and Gentlemen please hold on to your krauts,

because The Sandwich wasn’t the interesting part.

Meat and bread aside, I was intent on the thin 1/8 inch line

resting just below the tectonic surface of the marble rye.

I lifted the crust and examined the layers

like a sandwich archaeologist

looking for clues about a past civilization:

tiny, round, seed shaped men doused in vinegar and spice,

everything nice, set to anthropologically entice

my palette.

I bit down and felt the creak of the lettuce

and then heat and pain coursed through

my sinus cavities like river rain

over dry creek beds.

And then it was gone.


Up and gone like a great glass elevator

breaking through the blinding atmosphere

into the round mellowness of space.

From there it was over. I was hooked.

I think I off handedly mentioned it to a friend.

Not a casual acquaintance. But a closer more intimate association.

You don’t just mention these things to your librarian

or your accountant.

You need a level of off handed understanding

where mundane revelations

are made casually

like the accumulation of pocket lint.

My bank teller would not due,

no I needed a condiment confidant

who would hear and affirm my new love

like an understanding priest.

“I think I like mustard” I said.

“Cool” He replied.

Innocent beginnings but more was to come.

Specialty food devotee, Mustard Aficionado,

brave with condiment bravado.

That’s what it was. I was that guy. I now had a thing.

Some people have wine.

and wax poetic about vintage and varietal.

Some have chocolate in mind, some sea salt brine

Rare cheese, Chinese teas

maple syrup fresh from the trees.

Some single malt. It’s not their fault.

They just have a thing.

That’s what it was. I was that guy. I now had a thing.

A casual enthusiast, a weekend mustard warrior,

seeing the world through yellow tinted lenses,

I tended towards the exotic. French’s yellow squeeze bottle,

drying, dying at the back of the fridge on the left

didn’t live up to expectations,

wouldn’t come close to fulfilling my desires,

couldn’t do the job,

just didn’t cut the…the…

you get the idea.

In the end my taste buds held caucuses

recommending their favorite candidates.

Taste bud rhetoric can be intense

and my proletariat palate rose up and over threw

my callous bourgeois inhibitions.

My menus read like a tour of nations

supporting my all consuming inhalation of

mustard lucky charms

each pretentiously delicious.

Lime infused, palm branch mustard

with tomatoes sun dried to perfection

during a solar eclipse.

Moroccan horseradish mustard

with tarragon and fresh zested mango.

Wild flower and honey mustard

made from pollen harvested from

rare bees from the wilds of Czechoslovakia

fed a steady diet of coca cola and brown sugar.

And the gifts. Oh the gifts.

Friends on vacation perusing the shelves

of local merchants

looking for non perishable,

souvenir comestibles to bestow on me.

Now I like mustard but…I only eat so many sandwiches,

dip so many pretzels,

eat so many spoonfuls out of the jar for breakfast.

I was only one man.

One man in the fight his life for refrigerator space.

“We can do without milk right” I asked my wife

as I wedged a bottle of chipotle endive mustard

in beside the butter.

I put down my crowbar

and met her stone ground silence.

That night in the trivial pursuit

of refrigerator real estate

I was forced to choose between a hand ground,

balsamic glazed, caper infused, wasabi encrusted,

Dijon, aged in ice wine barrels for 37 days

and a delicate, lilac and lavender laced

licorice infusion

shaken on a 80 degree angle,

in a wind tunnel by Bavarian monks for a fortnight.

No man should have to make that choice.

Later as I crafted a sandwich, a thin lettuce and turkey affair

nestled between two slices of pumpernickel,

I gently applied that 1/8 inch of whole grain glory

just below the surface of the bread.

I bit down and felt the familiar sweet heat

and then felt it evaporate

up and gone

like a great glass elevator

breaking through the blinding atmosphere

into the round mellowness of space.