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"Cooking with Jim" poem by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal, New York




Cooking with Jim                             


actually, with him in spirit, in the kitchen

of his quaint brownstone on West 12th Street

in Manhattan, decades after his death.


And quite at home with him, I chop and slice;

bake, twice-baked potatoes — their skins crisping

to perfection; roast, the prime tenderloin of beef


he’d earlier instructed me to hand-rub with

coarsely ground black pepper and kosher salt.

(I used sea salt and that was ok with him.)


Right now, he’s reminding me to stir my roux,

then I should add crisp bacon bits, made earlier,

to the chopped spinach I just finished sautéing.


He says I should wait till the last minute

to toss the mélange of local field greens with

the lemongrette he had me make in lieu of


vinaigrette, because, it seems that vinegar

often spoils the taste of wine. As for the wines

with dinner: for the salad, I’m chilling


a 2011 Seyval Blanc from New York State;

with the beef dish, a 10-year-old California

Zinfandel; this followed by a 2010 Pinot Noir


from Oregon, paired with artisanal cheeses

from Vermont and Connecticut, plus

crisp sourdough rolls and flatbreads;


and, in the frig, chilling, a late-harvest, Long Island

Riesling to complement the secret confection hidden

away on a silver tray till it’s time for dessert.


According to Jim, red wine should be served at

room temperature, and since older reds have a layer

of sediment in the bottle, he said the Zin will need


to be decanted, and that, right before serving;

he wants the Pinot to breathe 15 minutes, or so,

in the glass before being drunk.


(The aeration of younger reds will rid those wines of

their chalky tasting tannins.) All this for my guests

who’ll soon be sitting round my dining table akin to


Jim’s 60 inch round green marble slab of a tabletop,

where, before the first bite of the Jim-inspired,

5-star meal, I’ll raise my glass to the big bald guy —

James Beard, “The Father of American Cuisine.”


RUTH SABATH ROSENTHAL is a New York poet, published in literary journals
and poetry anthologies throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Greece, India, Israel,
Romania, and the U.K. In 2006, her poem "on yet another birthday" was nominated
for a Pushcart prize. Ruth has 3 full-length books of poetry: "Facing Home and Beyond," 
"little, but by no means small," "Food: Nature vs Nurture," and a chapbook "Facing Home."
For more on Ruth, visit website:  http://www.ruthsabathrosenthal.moonfruit.com  

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