Eating the Wild Air …

From the first gasping breath, when tiny hands claw at air, reaching futilely for an anchor, a rope, air feeds us.

Even  fish of seas and lakes and rivers seek that building block of air — oxygen.

Fire roars when coddled by oxygen and whimpers like a teat-deprived newborn lamb in its absence.

Steam, the child of fire and water, births bread and soufflés, and yet sometimes bites the hand that feeds it. “Don’t play with fire, you may get burned.”

Surely violence creates beauty, when a strong, sure hand beats eggs, whips cream, churns and pounds and stirs.

All infusing the breath of life into nourishment.

Chantilly. And pâte à choux



Foaming, emulsifying, uniting opposites. Taking Earth’s bounty. Making tissue, flesh, sinew.



Sabayon, from Julia (Child)

6 egg yolks

1 cup sweet Marsala wine or port,  sherry, or Madeira

1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

Several drops of lemon juice (optional)

Whisk the yolks to blend them together, then pour in the Marsala and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl in a saucepan over hot water. Whisk constantly for 4 – 5 minutes, until the mixture takes on the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl regularly with the whisk to prevent the eggs from scrambling, and keep adjusting the heat if necessary. Taste the sabayon — if done correctly it will never be hot enough so that you can’t stick your finger into it for a tiny lick! At this point, a few drops of lemon juice might liven things up if necessary. Continue beating until sabayon mixture is thick, foamy, and three times its original volume. Remove from heat. Serve hot as is, tepid, or cool, with berries, etc. (From Julia and Jacques Cook at Home, 1999, p. 388-389.)

Of all the sounds despatched abroad,
There’s not a charge to me

Like that old measure in the boughs,

That phraseless melody
The wind does, working like a hand
Whose fingers brush the sky,

Then quiver down, with tufts of tune

Permitted gods and me.
When winds go round and round in bands,
And thrum upon the door,

And birds take places overhead,

To bear them orchestra,
I crave him grace, of summer boughs,
If such an outcast be,

He never heard that fleshless chant

Rise solemn in the tree,
As if some caravan of sound
On deserts, in the sky,

Had broken rank,

Then knit, and passed

In seamless company.

~~ Emily Dickinson


The earth resides in the food we eat … and therefore in us.

© 2011 Cynthia Bertelsen

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