Monday, January 17, 2011

Vinegar: A Poem

Over at The High Calling, there’s been a discussion on The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting toward God, a collection of essays on eating, fasting and a lot of other things. The three essays being discussed today include one on Hollandaise sauce, how a vegan began to backslide and how Swedish pancakes had a connection to the collapse of the Interstate 35 Bridge in Minneapolis (I’m still puzzling over that essay, and I’ve read it twice).

I’m reading along but not joining in the weekly blogging. I am dropping the occasional comment.

However, I read the three essays, and the one on Hollandaise sauce stuck in my head, likely because it brought back memories of eating Eggs Benedict at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans.

To show you how word association works in my head, I heard the word “vinegar” during the pastor’s sermon in church on Sunday, knew that it was used in mayonnaise, and leaped from mayonnaise to Hollandaise and The Spirit of Food. (And what mayonaise and Hollandaise have in common is possibly the color and the "-aise" at the end of each.)
So then I started thinking about what I knew about vinegar. I knew it was acetic acid; I knew bad wine can taste like vinegar; I knew it was used in condiments like mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup and salad dressings (like those various shades of vinaigrettes).

So, I went to Wikipedia, and I learned just how much I did not know about vinegar. So, in keeping with the spirit of the discussion of The Spirit of Food, I submit the following:

Vinegar Is: A Poem

Used in ancient Egypt,
Babylon and and Rome (of course),
vinegar is a chemical
(acetic acid) (but is it organic?)
(it all depends)
a condiment
a salad dressing
a chutney
a marinade
an odor absorber
a means of pickling
a sunburn aid
a cleaning material
an antidote for catnip
a tool for diet control
(Dr. Atkins’ High Vinegar Diet?)
a tool for glucose control
a sourness
an ill humor
a personality type
an enemy of infections
and stings and even
unwanted plants
(the vinegar on your salad
is also a herbicide, my dear)

Vinegar is diverse, a potpourri
of types, kinds, varieties:
malt, wine, apple cider, balsamic
rice, coconut, palm, cane, raisin,
date, beer, honey, East Asian black
(sounds like a tea), flavored,
Job’s Tears, kombucha, kiwifruit,
Sinamalc, distilled, spirit and
fruit: apple, black currant, raspberry,
quince, tomato, persimmon, jujube,
wolfberry (wolfberry?), rose apple.

And the most famous vinegar of all is:
the galling insult on a sticked sponge.


H. Gillham said...


That was fun.

I love how the mind jumps...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Miss/Ms/Mrs/Dr(?) Gillham above: that was a fun ride upon your train of consciousness and a refreshing (unlike vinegar) choice of subject!

Laura said...

Wonderful, Glynn! What grace to stop by and enjoy this poem this morning. I just love how your mind works :).

I have to say, I found the essay by Nordenson so incredibly moving that struggled to write about it. As a mother of two boys, just imagining one of my sons barely escaping such a tragedy? Well, it made me want to grab them both and hold them for a long time. Much less treat them to a time-honored family tradition of Swedish pancakes.

All of these essays are breathtaking. So glad you jumped in today, Glynn.

Unknown said...

Awesome Glynn!

Doug Spurling said...

Glynn, "And the most famous vinegar of all is:the galling insult on a sticked sponge." This vinegar kept stinging my memory as I read. Fabulous end. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

That essay about the Hollandaise was the most simple of the three for this reading, but I found it quite moving too! Thanks for sharing the progression of thought and how it emulsified into this piece. :) Well done!

S. Etole said...

Those last two lines will stay ... and stay.

Maureen said...

The conclusion really stands out.

Ann Kroeker said...

How many vinegar poems can there be in the world? Surely yours is one of only a handful--and of those that exist, how many move from humor to a punch in the spiritual gut?

Anonymous said...

Hi Glynn, the poem's last two lines were a surprise! Regarding my essay, perhaps the third time will be the charm. :) --Nancy

Anonymous said...

Glynn - I loved your poem! Humorous (the herbicide on my salad), informative (an antidote to catnip? is that when you're tired of the cat's antics being hopped up on the 'nip? I guess a whiff of vinegar might bring anyone down . . .) to the already noted thought-provoking last two lines. Thanks for sharing!

L.L. Barkat said...

The humor in this one totally tickled me.

Then you brought me round and set me to serious.

Anonymous said...

I loved the inner commentary with yourself through the poem (and with us, of course!). And who knew vinegar could be the subject of a poem. But really, what can't be the subject of a poem?