Dishes Nobody Prepares Anymore

Dishes Nobody Prepares Anymore

If you were a child in Germany in 1946
and survival was your recipe
you would have known
all the dishes of those post-war years–
Brennnesseln, Sauerampher, Bucheckern,
Steinpilze, Pfifferlinge, Fliegenpilze,
and, of course, Hollunderbeeren.
I was there and running along the railroad tracks
grabbing nettles which left blisters on my hands and arms.
Then I crouched at the edges of a brook
where sorrel could be cut for a spicy salad.
My grandparents led me into a forest,
all eyes focused on the ground,
gathering tiny nutritious beechnuts
to be shelled at home.
I learned that porcini mushrooms and chanterelles
are edible and to avoid the poisonous toadstool,
so attractive in its red cap and snowflake dots.
Wild blue-, rasp-, black-, and gooseberries
filled my pail to the brim, and in the evenings
I snuggled into the folds of my grandma’s apron
while she stirred molasses in a wooden barrel
from the sugar beets I had earlier helped to pull
from sandy soil with all my might.
Many years later I happened upon a restaurant in Berlin
where delicious nettle soup garnished
with slices of boiled egg was on offer.
And with amused recognition I read Dylan Thomas’s
childhood recollections of elderberry wine
and recalled my mother’s elderberry soup
with teaspoon-sized wheat dumplings swimming on top.
How sweet even a sour-tasting harvest.
How my palate remembers!

A writer from youth and an M.A. graduate in comparative literature from the University of Rochester, German-born Ute Carson published her first prose piece in 1977. Colt Tailing, a 2004 novel, was a finalist for the Peter Taylor Book Award. Carson’s story “The Fall” won Outrider Press’s Grand Prize and appeared in its short story and poetry anthology A Walk through My Garden, 2007. Her second novel In Transit was published in 2008. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and magazines in the US and abroad. Carson’s poetry was featured on the televised Spoken Word Showcase 2009, 2010, 2011, Channel Austin. A poetry collection Just a Few Feathers was published in 2011. The poem “A Tangled Nest of Moments” placed second in the Eleventh International Poetry Competition 2012. Her chapbook Folding Washing was published in 2013 and her collection of poems My Gift to Life was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Award Prize. Save the Last Kiss, a novella, was published in 2016. Her poetry collection Reflections was out in 2018. She received the Ovidiu-Bektore Literary Award 2018 from the Anticus Mulicultural Association in Constanta, Romania. In 2018 she was nominated a second time for the Pushcart Award Prize by the PlainView Press and a third time by the Yellow Arrow Press in 2021. Gypsy Spirit was published in 2020 as was her essay Even A Gloved Touch. Her Chapbook Listen was published in 2021. Ute Carson resides in Austin, Texas with her husband. They have three daughters, six grandchildren, and a clowder of cats.

Also read: Joy of Food

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