Food History

The Favorite Recipes of American Poets

Maria Popova of the blog Brain Pickings always unearths the most interesting stories, tidbits, and other tidy pieces of information from history and the far corners of the internet. Yesterday she revealed excerpts from John Keats's Porridge: Favorite Recipes of American Poets, a 1973 book by poet and self-taught chef Victoria McCabe. The book contains 117 favorite recipes from some of that era's most illustrious literary minds, including Allen Ginsberg, Edward Abbey, Claire McAllister, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Apparently "about half a dozen of the recipes were written in verse," and at least half "were chosen for their ability to keep a poor poet full for a long time without putting too large a dent in the pocketbook." In fact, as the introduction notes, almost ninety per cent of the recipes submitted were the poet's original recipe or some variation on a classic.

Few poets, it would seem, are willing to claim as favorite any old run of the mill standard recipe. This is not surprising when we consider the nature of the Beast: the poet as creator, inventor, who makes out of a few necessary ingredients a magic potion.

To see recipes for Allen Ginsberg's Borsch or Joyce Carol Oates' Easter Anise Bread, click on over to Brain Pickings!

→ Read more: John Keats's Porridge: The Favorite Recipes of Beloved Poets at Brain Pickings

Related: 12 Great Writers and Their Favorite Snacks

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