East Coker Poetry Competition 2016
Everyone eats food. But could you write 'A Recipe in Poetic Form'? Following a vote at our May meeting, this was the challenge for our 2016 competition.
The recipe could be for any sort of food – a soup, a main course, a pudding, a cake, etc. The choice was open to the poet - but there had to be enough information in the poem so that the recipe could actually be made - all ingredients, cooking times and temperatures if applicable.
As the entries came in it was apparent that many entries interpreted the remit in very different ways and would not 'qualify' for the competition as envisaged. It was therefore decided to award a secondary prize category for those poems submitted on the theme of 'A recipe in poetic form' but not able to fit the main category. The Judges also had the difficult task of selecting which category the poem would match. Our thanks go to this year's judges, Sonia and Crispian Cartwright.
A Recipe in Poetic Form - Main category for a recipe that could actually be made and eaten:-
1st Prize Juliet Lacey with 'Scappi's Tortoise Pie'
2nd Prize Iona Lambe with 'Christmas Cake'
3rd Jane Williams with 'Supper Dish'
4th Brian Patman with 'A Recipe in Rhymes and Riddles'
A Recpie in Poetic Form - Secondary Category for a recipe that did not fall in the main category above
1st Prize David Cloke with 'Pilchards and Plums'
2nd Prize Maya Pieris with 'Whisky Sours'
3rd Janet Lailey with 'A Recipe for Midsummer Potatoes'
4th Margaret Hamilton with 'Recipe in a Poem'
The Winning poem in the Main Category:-
Scappi’s Tortoise Pie
based on a 16th century recipe
(from The Land Where Lemons Grow by Helena Atlee)
What you will need, Signora, is a deep dish
and a good steel knife, the sharpest in Sicily.
You must search the harbour for cinnamon, saffron,
nutmeg and cloves fresh from the hold of a galleon.
You must bring ten sour oranges from your ripest grove
and press out their juice with its scent of hot gold.
Onions and mint must be chopped till they ring in the nose:
then softened in foaming white goat butter.
Now choose your tortoise.
Signora, do not be tempted by sea-turtle.
Tortoise is a thousand times more succulent.
It is the finest meat on earth.
Here is what you must do with your tortoise.
Cut off his head and put him aside
till his body is dead. Be patient, I say.
It might take a day for his body to die.
Now take off his shell and his skin, clean him well.
Go slow, do not rush. Make sure there’s no bile,
that the meat is lustrous and sweet.
Lay him out in the dish and anoint him with spices
crushed to a paste, as thick as you wish.
No need for haste. Sprinkle sugar and salt
with onions and mint to crown him.
Pour in the juice to drown him.
Cover with pastry and put him to cook
as slow as you please until toothsome and tender.
This is slow food, signora.
Slow to prepare.
Slow to digest.
Slow to reach the heart.
This is the slowest food on earth.
by Juliet Lacey
Second Prize in the main category:-
The mixture of dried fruit and peel gleams,
Stirred well with a long wooden spoon,
Their many colours plumped and shining,
Soaking up a generous glass of whiskey.
Next the flour is weighed and spices added;
Cinnamon, a gift of old for kings and Gods,
Its golden richness guarded by winged serpents,
Bringing now the mystic fragrance of Sri Lanka.
Nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, each with
Exotic tastes and heats from far-off lands,
And bloodied histories of wars and voyages,
--- And all now held in little lined-up jars.
Eggs and sugar are beaten well with treacle,
And lemon zest to zing alive the taste.
Cherries, almonds, dates and apricots are added
To the mix, a celebration in a bowl.
A large cake tin is lined and wrapped (brown paper, string),
The oven heated and the shelves arranged,
The mixture gently settled, evened, smoothed,
Then in, and timed, and turned, and covered,--- cooked!
The windows are open wide but the whole house
Smells of Christmas cake and happiness.
by Iona Lambe