From The Minstrel of Belmont: Futomaki

I love cooking. I spend a good portion of my weekends thinking about it and doing it. Sure, with two small kids I often do a few favorite dishes that will get them to eat their veggies. But from time to time, I get to stretch my legs so to speak.

Cooking is like my third leg of the tripod. My front legs are writing and martial arts and cooking takes the rear. I know less about it, but I’m learning. It’s fascinating to see how flavors blend. It’s amazing to see how heat changes food, from making kidney beans safe to eat to the Maillard reaction and beyond. Cooking is also the way I revisit places I’ve been and visit places I may never go. It teaches me about people.

There is a reason that we call America a melting pot. It’s more than simple propaganda; it’s a promise. We are more flavorful, more fulfilling, for having been through this pot. Otherwise, we’re boring, plain. And the kids are going to get tired of the same old thing. Futomaki was written in that spirit.



The whole world
fits into my red
cast-iron pot
or the big smooth
mirror of my skillet.

I love kalbi,
the decadence of beef
in the smoky kitchen,
the scent of charred
soy sauce on the grill pan.
I love dim sum.
Its frugal origin.
The varieties that only
leftovers can bring.
I’m tempted
to Jewpanese up
the shakshuka
with a shot of shoyu
and a fistful
of nori flakes

Still I am
what Grandma made me,
a futomaki,
a fat roll of stuff
holding the whole world
within ever-loving
nori arms,
consumed by life
from one end to the other

Food is both life
and not. People are not
a cuisine, but a feast
poured over
and ignored,
to blend, to find
the better angels of design.
That is the promise
of America.
Sometimes we struggle
to remember that.

“Futomaki” was written during the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge and published in The Minstrel of Belmont by Finishing Line Press.

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