Today we’re celebrating National Cheese Lovers’ Day with Rosie Shepperd’s gloriously gourmet poem, ‘I know I’ve gone too far when I think of pappardelle with broccoli’, from The Man at the Corner Table.
Rosie Shepperd’s debut collection, The Man at the Corner Table is an evocative and intimate celebration of food and place, with poems that posess a stunning intensity and a winning insistence on detail. ‘I know I’ve gone too far when I think of pappardelle with broccoli’ conjures the speaker’s deliberately precise ritual of food preparation – the broccoli ‘diagonally cut’, the knowledge that ‘steam holds the flavour’ – staging it against loneliness and loss, the depth of emotion making itself known like a subtle flavour in a delicate dish.
In Rosie’s words:
The poem is the product of a little “opposition research” into the link between the perception and conception of feeling. So the grief of the speaker has certain concrete particulars that she doesn’t understand. The process of making the dish with (Alpine) cheese and vivid broccoli is her way of exploring that grief. Fontina (cheese that is made high in the clouds) is a way in to this poem. The way out is an acceptance of the “bitterness” in the herbs and black pepper and in the resolution of making sense of what was and is no longer – through the universal – “sand” or “gravel” or “ash”. The semiotic turn comes with the acknowledged need for comfort – maybe nutmeg or butter. Next time.
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