Observations Part 2: All-Year Food

Before diving in, I’d like to thank Geoff M. Pope for being the first supporter of this new project. I’m now officially making progress on my goal of covering website costs for the year. If you would like to support the Culinary Saijiki project, you can visit the Buy Me a Coffee page here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki.

Second, don’t forget that tonight is the deadline to send your haiku and senryu for the May 31st bonus post. Note that although the deadline is 11:59 p.m. CST, I will be asleep when that passes, so if you slip your haiku in during the wee hours, I’ll still take them! You can find the submission form here: https://forms.gle/wamaaMmoYS88AjXz6

Notes on All-Year Food

In my May 10th post, I noted that I have observed three broad categories of food words in haiku:

  1. Food words that are a definite seasonal referent;
  2. Food words that are not a part of any specific season;
  3. Food words that become seasonal with an additional modifying word.

This week, I’m focused on the second category.

As of this writing, I’ve collected 125 haiku for the project. Of those, the greatest proportion are all-year words, making up 36% of the current total. Although I haven’t collected statistical data every time I add a haiku to my Scrivener file, I know that when I first started collecting, the all-year food words were an even higher percentage. As I’ve added to the collection, the proportions have evened out somewhat, though the all-year words still come up more frequently. As yet, I don’t have a hypothesis as to why that might be.

In Haiku World, William J. Higginson identifies the following food-related words in the All Year section of his saijiki:

  • Meal
  • Cooking
  • Beverage
  • Coffee
  • Pots and Pans

Although I have collected a range of all-season words beyond these five, as a nod to his work, in this post, I’ll discuss the haiku I’ve collected that relate to his original list. None of these appear in Haiku World; they’ve all been published recently.


Breakfast is a common meal that shows up in haiku. Morning and evening seem to be inspiring times of day for haiku poets, and if you have the luck of enjoying peaceful, leisurely breakfasts, I can see how the first meal of the day would lead to inspiration.

morning meditation;
thinking about not-thinking
. . . and breakfast

Shir Haberman, bottle rockets #46

rising early . . .
a half-finished haiku
for breakfast

Tony Williams, Failed Haiku #70

I debated whether classifying Johnette Downing’s lunch haiku as all-year or not. On the one hand, there isn’t a clear seasonal referent. On the other hand, a lunch box implies school. As school runs most of the calendar year, though, I didn’t feel right assigning this haiku to the autumn category. A lunch box could also imply summer camp. Therefore, I designated this one as all-year. If you disagree, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts! (Johnette, if you happen to see this, please do chime in about what you intended!)

lunch box
her doll
a stowaway

Johnette Downing, bottle rockets #46

The act of setting the table can be a meditative experience that can yield haiku moments. It doesn’t have to be a formal dinner arrangement; a simple home arrangement for a small family brings new moments of awareness.

table setting
for three
bun in the oven

Brittney Ritoff, Failed Haiku #70


A vintage drawing of a blonde woman, with text saying, "I'm just a girl. Standing in front of the fridge. Hoping dinner will make itself."

At present, I haven’t found much in the way of cooking-related haiku, senryu, or zappai that don’t have an additional seasonal modifier. Ronald K. Craig’s humorous poem reminds me of the pitfalls of having to cook for oneself: not wanting anything you have in the fridge, hoping dinner will cook itself, and trying to talk yourself out of takeout.

often the fridge door of opportunity opens

Ronald K. Craig, Failed Haiku #70


Tea is the most common all-year beverage I’ve collected so far, and ultimately, deserves to be a topic of its own, on par with coffee. That being said, varieties of tea can become season-specific words; a colleague of mine talked about how green tea makes her think of spring. I’m certain that tea will get a post of it’s own in the future!

teacups filled
with fallen blossoms
closing time

Shiela Sondik, tinywords 18.2

blue days
Mom pours what ifs
from her teapot

Adele Evershed, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

Sunday morning
head bowed, hands clasped
around my tea

Kristen Lindquist, Kristen Lindquist, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 8

In Gary Hotham’s poem below, the cup could refer to tea, coffee, or something else entirely. The presumably empty beverage vessel connects to rich memory, nostalgia, and perhaps grief. I’m also intrigued by the extent to which mothers come up in the haiku and senryu in this section.

Mom’s home
the last cup
she drank from

Gary Hotham, Rightsizing the Universe: Haiku Theory, Yiquralo Press, 2019


Coffee is one of the most popular all-season food words I’ve collected so far. I’m certain that if I went through the list of all the haiku I’ve written, coffee would be the food/beverage word that features most frequently. While coffee can be modified to reflect the season (more about that in June), a hot cup of coffee seems appropriate just about any time of the year. (And if you’re not sensitive to caffeine, it’s appropriate to any time of day!)

coffee shop date jitters

Marsh Muirhead, Failed Haiku issue 70

waiting for your call
the coffee percolator
welling up

David Gale, First Frost #1

coffee milk cloud
another day to figure
out the finances

Crystal Simone Smith, First Frost #1

hot black coffee
ad-just-ing my eye-sight
between sips

Paul Callus, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode Episode 8

Pots and Pans

As with most of the cooking-specific haiku I’ve collected so far, most of my pots-and-pans haiku have a seasonal modifier, taking them out of the all-year category. However, left to their own devices, this is definitely an all-year word. We have to cook regardless of season!

our first saucepan cooking for one

Maurice Nevile, Failed Haiku #70

silence . . .
water comes to a boil
in a silver pot

Seth Kronick, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 8

Do let me know your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to send me your bonus post submissions by tonight! I’m already putting it together with the work that has come in so far, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

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