Dining on Words, Part 1: Fruits

April is National Poetry Month. I know, you’re probably asking why I’m even bringing that up a blog devoted to culinary history materials. The truth is, it might just surprise you how much poetry there is on the subject of food, eating, and everything that goes along with it. Or maybe you aren’t–after all, food is so much a part of our lives. And we have touched on this subject before, with specific, culinary-focused literary items. Whether you’re surprised or not, for a couple of posts this month, I thought we would look at some poetry from other publications in our collections that somehow involve food. (And not just because both of those things have a special place in my heart.)

When it comes to the topic of fruit, there are a lot of poems. Seriously, a LOT. While looking for a specific on by D. H. Lawrence, I found five other ones, each dedicated to a specific fruit. The pomegranate has a long history as a symbol and plays a part of many-a-poem (and story), so it seemed a good place to start.

from The Collected Poems of D. H. Lawrence, v.2, 1928.

Lawrence talks briefly about pomegranates growing on trees, which got me thinking about Robert Frost’s “After Apple Picking.” Although it does describe apples, it also focuses on the act of acquiring them from their trees.

from Collected Poems of Robert Frost, c.1930

From pomegranates and apples, we’re switching to stone fruits for our final poems. Wallace Stevens’ “A Dish of Peaches in Russia,” peaches are repeatedly tied to images of places for the speaker.

from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, c.1954

Last up for this week is probably the most well-known of this group. These days, you’re likely to find it used on the Internet as a meme, but William Carlos Williams’ poem about plums has been iconic for a long time!

from The Collected Earlier Poems of William Carlos Williams, c.1951

In our next post, we’ll look at what do to once you have some food gathered (in other words, poetry about invitations to dine and the act of eating).

Although we don’t have a copy in our collection, my favorite poem laden with fruit imagery is Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” which part poem, part instructive lesson for young women in the Victorian era. It’s more than a little creepy as the poem continues, but the first part reads like a trip through the produce section! Did I miss your favorite “fruit” poem? Feel free to share in the comments!

National Apple Month is Here!

October is here and so is National Apple Month! I know, I usually post about apples every fall, but it’s so EASY! We have a long list of apple-related materials here in Special Collections! Last spring, the library hosted its second “Appalanche!” event, a celebration of Appalachian culture. As part of that evening, Special Collections had a display of publications and photographs all about apples. It included a digital display of scanned photographs, images, and more. So, to celebrate the apple this October, here are the images we shared that night…

Autumn and Apples: A Perfect Paring*

*Pun intended, of course!

Apples are appearing in abundance at the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market. I indulged in my first peck yesterday, since my applesauce supply has dwindled to a single batch in the freezer. (As soon as my favorite Arkansas Blacks are available, they’ll be at least one more peck in my future.) With autumn here in SW Virginia at last, I can’t be the only one with an eye for apples and apple recipes, either.

One kind of publication that you’ll find throughout our book stacks and culinary manuscript collections is the extension bulletin. Virginia Tech is an agricultural school and we have LOTS of extension publications, but Special Collections holdings aren’t limited to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. For example, this week’s feature comes from the Cooperative Extension Service, New York State College of Home Economics at Cornell University.

Although the majority of the recipes in this short pamphlet are desserts, there are a couple of other traditional apple dishes: red cabbage and, of course, pork chops. There are classics like apple pie, apple butter, waldorf salad, and apple dumplings. Then a few classic recipes adapted for apples: scalloped apples, apple gingerbread, and apple pancakes. In fact, there are only three recipes in the pamphlet not including apples: dressings for apple salads! Hardly surprising  (or inappropriate) with a title like Favorite Apple Recipes.

You can find the full version of the 1957 edition of Favorite Apple Recipes online through Cornell University’s Core Historical Literature of Agriculture collection. If you’re interested in Virginia Cooperative Extension publications, you can find the most recent ones on their website. You can find some newer and older publications through the university’s institutional repository, VTechWorks. Or you can drop on by and see us. We’re here, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm, as always.

And until next week, happy appling!