08 February 2010

Inventory of Morning Norwegian Cuisine

In a small town in southern Minnesota lives my father's youngest sister, Shirley and her husband, Burdette. My aunt and uncle will celebrate 61 years of marriage on the 12th of February and she will be 81 on the 28th. Blue Earth (Minnesota) is just 3.2 square miles and is located just off Interstate-Highway 90 and a few miles north of the Iowa border. There are less 4,000 residents and about 900 families. A small town - yes, but a town with heart, history and yes - the Green Giant.

"Flights, Freeways, and Detours," cover image

My Aunt Shirley is a marvel. For nearly her entire life she has written poems - snippets of life through the eyes of a daughter, sister, mother, grand-mother, great-grandmother, co-worker, friend, and neighbor. She was a secretary, bookkeeper and Licensed Public Accountant before retiring in 1993. She's written over 700 poems and in 1998 published her first book of poetry "Buckwheat Cakes and Cornmeal Mush (Growing Up in the Thirties)" She has a talent for capturing the surprise of language or perception. "She has a knack for presenting the exactly appropriate word for the exactly fresh metaphor ..." said one peer poet, author and editor. "She is both an astute observer and accurate reporter, pulling the reader into each event with delightful images."

In February 1999 the famous Minnesotan, Garrison Keillor, read one of her poems ("Country Haircuts") on The Writer's Almanac on NPR Radio. In the past decade she has published eight books of poetry, each one focusing on a facet of life as an american from the heartland.

Below I share with you one of my favorites. A poem written about a vacation she and Uncle Burdette took to Norway, the home of his ancestors. As you read the poem you can almost taste and smell the delicious Norwegian morsels of food.

--Luci Baker Johnson


Cold fish for breakfast—

in red sauce, creamy sauce, vinegar

Cold meats, thin sliced, arranged on platters

Pickles-cucumber and beet

Great chunks of cheese—

white, yellow, brown

with slicer provided

Water pitchers of milk and orange juice

Soup bowls stored beside cornflakes,

museli, vegetable bowl of sugar

Baskets or porcelain hens

with nests of soft-boiled eggs

near stacks of egg cups

Pyramid of saucers and cups

beside pots of strong coffee,

hot water for tea

In most hotels, yogurt and fresh fruit—

in some, caviar

Little plastic boxes of smor (butter in English)

vegetable bowls of jam—

strawberry, orange marmalade, and one other

Generous trays of breads—

coarse white, whole wheat, hard crusted buns

that sprinkle crumbs onto the lap

of one who presumes to split them

by Shirley Ensrud Flights, Freeways and Detours (of Vacations and Travel) © 2008

1 comment:

A rootdigger said...

Yes, I worked there Many many reas back in tha outskirts of the town/ Telex. and now my friends live there. My Brother once did. It sure was a surprise reading that post!!