Do You Haiku?

Remember in school when we had to write haiku?  Neither do I, so here’s a refresher.  Haiku is Japanese poetry, three lines long, with seventeen syllables. It’s written as 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 again.  It’s usually about nature or an experience. Someone, somewhere, thought this up, folks.

I live in the Eastern US, where “nature” has been eleven straight months of rain, followed by a swath of single-digit weather.  I wrote this lovely haiku about it:

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain

Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain

Ice, ice, ice, ice, ice.

I know. I agree. I am far too talented to be wasting my life working instead of creating masterpieces.

Looking at it, haiku are like limericks for the snootier among us, minus the humor.  Haiku doesn’t rhyme, and not to disparage a centuries old tradition, it sounds just a bit disjointed and rambling when read aloud.

In my mind, all haiku follows this:

These words make no sense.

Here are seven syllables.

Oh look, it’s a dog.

Don’t hate me for my talents, embrace me in all my haiku glory.

I have never liked non-rhyming poetry.  Non-rhyming poetry is cheating.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s look at a beloved classic, in non-rhyme form.  This is my absolute favorite literary piece of all time:

I don’t like them in a home, with a rodent.  I don’t like them, wherever you put them.  I don’t care for this dish of green eggs and ham. I’ve told you several times, Sam, I don’t care for them.

Now let’s go one step further.  Green eggs and haiku.

I don’t like this meal.

Sam, take them away from me.

I won’t eat these eggs.

Look, I’m not saying that the haiku process takes the fun out of poetry (hey, at least with a haiku I wouldn’t have to come up with a word that rhymes with purple for that piece about grape jelly I’ve been struggling to write).  I’m just saying it seems like the kind of poetry put together by someone who thought rhyming was overrated and just a tad too, well, rhyme-y.

I may be in the minority here, though.  April 17 is National Haiku Day, believe it or not, so make your big Haiku Day plans early.  My plans on Haiku Day?  I am going to protest by reading from a book of limericks on the White House lawn.

Nobody likes “leaves, all floating down – stupid leaves need to be raked – damn it I hate trees,” but you know what we all have in common?

Everyone loves the man from Nantucket.

Just Desserts

Today I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart. Food. Not just any food. Dessert.  Sweet snacks. Sugary goodness. My absolute favorite part of the meal. Sometimes I eat dessert first. Sometimes I eat only dessert. I will actually go out just to get dessert or a sweet snack. It depends on if I have found the ideal restaurant that has what I consider a decent dessert. I have yet to find a place with the perfect dessert menu or a pastry chef with extraordinary talents. So for now, I settle for decent or satisfactory. And that is good enough. In case you didn’t know, I take my desserts seriously.

The Dutch gave us a Stroopwafel which is literally a syrup waffle. I know, right!? Yum! The French gave the world a Tarte Tatin, an amazing apple tart. With only four ingredients, it’s a hell of a lot easier to make than apple pie and is much yummier in my opinion. Ireland came up with Irish Whiskey Cake – I mean, really, how can you go wrong there? Do you know what they have in Sweden? Waffle day! Yes, it’s on the 25th of March, which is known as Våffeldagen. I bet if Leslie Knope ever had to live somewhere other than Pawnee, she’d move to Sweden. I certainly wouldn’t mind living in Sweden just to experience Waffle Day. But I digress. The Swedes came up with a snack called a Semla Bun which is a bun made out of wheat that’s flavored with cardamom and stuffed full of whipped cream (the real deal, none of that fake out of a plastic tub stuff) and almond paste. Don’t even get me started on Belgium. Their myriad of chocolates alone is amazing.  Italy created Marzipan, an absolutely decadent confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal which can be sculpted into pretty much anything, although it’s often seen as fruit – and tastes delicious by the way. It doubles as cake decorations, so it’s not just lovely, it’s the hard-working multi-tasker of the dessert kingdom.

And what do we have in America as our claim to fame for sweets? Carnival food. Deep fried Oreos and Cheesecake on a stick. Crispy Crème hamburgers. I saw one of those travel shows with a guy who visits diners and restaurants across the country and in one place they were battering and deep-frying Cadbury Creme Eggs. As if the world needs that. Did you know that there actually exists in this country as a snack deep-fried butter? Now I ask you –  is such a thing really necessary? No, don’t answer that. I’m afraid to hear your answer.

I love sweets with the best of them, couldn’t give up my beloved confections on a bet nor would I want to. But I just can’t seem to work up an appetite for some of the choices I’m all too often being offered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a dessert snob, I’m truly not. But come on people, we can do better!

Now, I’m not going to debate the obesity issues we have here in the States but what I will argue is the sheer lack of creativity in all of this sugary mess. I went to a Friendly’s Restaurant many weeks ago with my daughter, and for those of you who may not be familiar, these restaurants are known for their family friendly atmosphere as well as their ice cream. Upon entry, we immediately ran into a sign (well, not literally mind you, we weren’t hurt or anything, it was just there so you couldn’t miss it) that advertised their special desserts for the summer. And one of the specials was Pop Tart ice cream sandwiches. It was a special dessert. Special. Dessert.

Now we’re not talking a fancy-shmancy restaurant here, I get it, I do, but still.  Are we that out of ideas for desserts and sweet snacks that we have to not only recycle the idea of ice cream sandwiches but also the idea behind Pop Tarts??  I see a similar phenomenon occurring in other, more upscale places as well. There’s simply no creativity anymore. Everything is deep-fried or else it’s Crème Brule.

Does no one take dessert seriously anymore? Or once they graduate culinary school, do the talented pastry chefs quickly skedaddle off to Europe where they might find themselves whipping up something more interesting than Cheesecake on a stick? If so, I wouldn’t blame them in the least.

Or perhaps…maybe…just maybe…is it possible these masters of pastries and sugary goodies are hiding out there somewhere and I just haven’t found them yet? And if so, can someone please, please tell me where, and slip me the password so I can get in?

 

Pop Tarts pass as a dessert special apparently

Pop Tarts pass as a dessert special apparently

 

stroopwafel_dutch_foods

Stroopwafel literally means syrup waffle – yes, please!

 

tarte tatin

Tarte Tatin – a beautiful presentation AND yummy!

 

irish whiskey cake

Irish whiskey and cake — how can you go wrong?

 

Semla Bun

a Semla Bun looks absolutely delish!

 

marzipan

lovely Marzipan, wish I had even half the talent it takes to create these