What My Mother’s Hands Smell Like
The answer is garlic. And other things.
Literary scholar Anne L. Bower and folklorist Janet Theophano, among others, advocate a particular kind of reading strategy when it comes to recipes: setting out to uncover their “textual strategies, their values statements, and their narrative powers” (Bower 5) out of what is often plain, instructional writing.
If Bower and Theophano can find poetry in a recipe, than surely Carmine Starnino can give us a recipe for pasta con alice in sonnet form.
The ingredients are few: three cloves of garlic, three anchovy fillets, olive oil and a pinch of chili flakes. Add spaghetti al dente and, if you like, parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and grated parmesan. Serve with wine.
And the result is, as with so many simple recipes, more than the sum of its parts.
some seven minutes later . . .
Starnino writes of oft repeated gestures, the everyday kitchen labour that is so persistently devalued and finds grace in them. Besides garlic, his mother’s hands smell like “the cool stowed in a pile of sheets just off the line,” the “scent of one’s soul in a dry dwelling place.”
Talking about this sonnet, Carmine Starnino explained it was inspired by Richard Wilbur’s wonderful poem, ” “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World.”
Bower, Anne. Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories. Amherst, Mass: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997. Internet resource.
Starnino, Carmine. Credo. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000. Internet resource.
Theophano, Janet. Eat My Words: Reading Women’s Lives Through the Cookbooks They Wrote. New York, N.Y: Palgrave, 2002. Print.
Text by Alexia Moyer and Nathalie Cooke
Photos by Alexia Moyer