stories

Eating the alphabet

left: original artwork, right: the tea towel itself (creased, stained and used)
No items found.
No items found.

Food is the stuff of life, or is my life stuffed with food? Words fill my head, food fills my belly, both generate wellbeing. A feeling in my gut burst into an alphabet of eating. I wrote, then I lived it in real life for twenty-six days: experimenting, tasting, reflecting. Some days of regret, many mundane moments, and foods beyond my experience. My poem spills out mouthfuls of delight and a few days of suffering and deprivation.

A starts with a flourish of artichoke with avocado, followed by anchovy-flavoured aubergine, then apples, apricots, almonds.

For B, an abundance of beans – baked, broad, runner, butter or green – in stew of bacon and beef made to nourish, and a side dish of broccoli. washed down with beer.  Biscuits for afters (blueberries optional). Mashed banana in bread before bed.

On C day, a terrine of cod and crab served on crispbread. Main: cabbage, chicken, courgette, cumin – cooked – sprinkled with coriander and cheese on a bed of couscous, garnished with capers and chutney.  Chocolate cake, custard and cream for pud.  Coffee and chips coming home from the pub. Still hungry? Crunch on celery and cucumber. 

D is for doldrums: doughnuts and dates.  And dill.  That’s all.

E is for eggs, the start of all life. 

F is for figs, fruit tea and fish, gutted and filleted by your sharpest knife. 

For G make a stir-fry of groundnuts and greens with garlic and ginger. Then grapes soaked in gin.

H is for harvest. Oh glory! a day of honey and haggis, hummus and ham.

I is for ice cream; luscious, licking and lovely. 

On J eat jelly and jam, home-made, dripping, slipping,

and K gives you kidney with kale.

L is for licking fingers and lips after lobster linguine, lamb’s liver with lentils, lettuce and old-style lemonade.

It’s M.  Let’s have milk, macaroni and mustard. Mussels or mince? Hell, let’s have both! Add mushrooms and mayo, cooked in a dollop of marge, and stir in some marmite for good measure. 

Nuts! It’s N-day. Handfuls and gob-fuls. Pass a nectarine. 

Oh for offal!  Onions and okra sizzled in oil, add olives and offal, a topping of oats and oregano, oven bake (not boil).  Optional oysters for starters. 

P – prepare your palate.  A ragout of pork with peppers, potatoes, paprika and prunes, served with pasta and pickles. Fussy children can have pizza and pancakes with pears. Posh people can start with prawns. 

Q.  Sorry.  Just quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). You could spend the long day wondering what to do with a quince.

R brings food! Rice! Radishes! Rocket!

It’s S and there’s seriously insufficient nutrition. Spoon sugar into smoothies, swallow sausages and smoked salmon for breakfast, sea bass and sardines with swede and spinach splodge for tea.  A satsuma.

On T drink tea, eat tuna with tomatoes and turnip. 

Eventually U – Oh god, the uncooked day.  Slip in a few Udon noodles. 

V – ah, vodka. Venison and vegetables (various). 

For W drink water, wine, whisky – adults only – and watercress soup till night brings respite,

and X – a non-day, hung over, paracetamol breaking the pattern until you recall, towards nightfall, that tomorrow is

Y – slurping yogurt slipping down the gullet. Then roast yam.

Z is for zilch, nothing, zen, the end. Unless you’re Italian, then binge on zucchini, and zabaglione.

Jo mentions she isn't a visual artist but she made her poem into limited edition tea-towels and distributed to those who'd been involved in the project.

Check out Jo's blog, where you can see the journey of her poem, day by day. You can find more recent writing here.