Let’s Eat — A Writer’s Guide to Cooking

As it is with writing, often it’s the surprise of a new, accidental combination rather than the recipe that counts. I don’t know how to make Amish friendship cake; that particular recipe was passed along to us from my wife’s friend, and my wife tends to its culture. The cake is the product of a ten-day process, during which she feeds the starter at regular intervals with flour and sugar, and roughs it up in its plastic bag in between. The mixture grows and grows; the bag threatens to explode; finally the day comes for baking in loaf pans, and a little of the starter is saved for the next go-around.

The first change she made to the recipe was to add blueberries. Superb. Then she tried blackberries. Again, superb. Strawberries, as expected, were terrible. They were too sweet for the sour mixture for one thing, and for another they broke down and spread throughout the cake, leaving it somewhat wet and mushy.

These days, after I shower in the morning, I make some chamomile tea, and while that’s steeping I eat a piece of friendship cake. I put it in a cereal bowl and top it with fresh homemade madzoon. After I finish my treat, I drink the tea at my desk and get back to work. And that is exactly how this piece is being written.

This morning, though, was the scene of the latest surprise. When my brother and his wife visited us recently from Armenia, they brought with them a beautiful pomegranate. Yesterday evening my wife and I broke it open. The seeds were so good, I practically wept. I didn’t think of it then, but about half an hour ago when I was preparing my snack I suddenly realized that they would also go with the cake, blueberries, and madzoon. And I was right — the flavor was incredible, no less than a symphony on my tongue.

And yes, I am quite emotional when it comes to pomegranates. They are so beautiful, and there are so many memories associated with them, of fathers and grandfathers and Old World dreams. I could never feel that way about a banana. My mother never made banana jelly. But her pomegranate jelly, and the way the sun shone through it on the Sunday morning breakfast table, was an experience divine.

When my brother and I visited Armenia in 1982, the first person we met was eating a pomegranate. He smiled, and offered us some seeds.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

Main Page
Author’s Note
A Listening Thing
Among the Living
No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
Songs and Letters
Collected Poems
Early Short Stories
Armenian Translations
Cosmopsis Print Editions
News and Reviews
Highly Recommended
Favorite Books & Authors
Useless Information
Flippantly Answered Questions
E-mail & Parting Thoughts

Top of Page
Old Eats