Dining Together

person in white shirt holding white ceramic plate with food

Thanks to Lorraine for the contribution of three coffees! I’ve now covered 28% of my web hosting costs for the year. I’ll be releasing the October bonus recipe next week, so if you want to make a contribution, now’s your chance!

The turn of autumn has me thinking about people gathering together to eat. Maybe it’s because I finally cooked a serious meal (French onion soup) in our new home. Maybe it’s because John’s birthday is just around the corner. Maybe it’s because I’m experiencing my first real autumn in over a decade, and the feelings of coziness it inspires. Either way, I decided to explore haiku in my collection that in some way reflect eating together. Oddly enough, only one of those haiku has a seasonal referent, and it’s summer! The rest best fit in the all-year category. But as always, these posts reflect my collection of food haiku and senryu at a particular moment in time; if I revisit this topic in a year, the seasonal distribution might look entirely different.

All Year

outside the food bank
a ragman shares his crust
with a sparrow

Kim Goldberg, Charlotte DiGregorio’s Writer’s Blog

Kim Goldberg has written an exceptionally tender haiku. Here is a man with next to nothing, yet still has it in his heart to share what little he does have with a small sparrow. While I’d initially intended for this post to focus on haiku about people eating together, I added this poem to the database early in this project, and I kept coming back to it as I was deciding what to write about this week. Per Higginson’s Haiku World, “sparrow” is an all-year term, and I don’t see any other seasonal referent, making it an all-year poem.

black spatula on black frying pan
Photo by Caio on Pexels.com

lover’s quarrel
a bit of shell
in the omelet

Jim Kacian, Kingfisher 3

This poem can be read a few different ways. First, the quarrel could be caused by the presence of a shell in the omelet. Second, the couple could have been quarreling, and the person who made the omelet leaves the shell in as a bit of passive-aggressive revenge. In a third interpretation, the person making the omelet is so flustered by the argument that they let the shell slip in unnoticed. Although there is no seasonal referent, this is nonetheless a poem that opens itself up to the imagination, which is one of my favorite things about a well-wrought haiku.

re-opening . . .
the server remembers
my standing order

Barry Levine, Prune Juice #35

There is something about being a regular at a restaurant that feels special. Yes, the restaurant is part of your routine, but it’s that sense of consistency, the knowledge that the servers see dozens (if not hundreds) of people a day, and yet they still know who you are, and what you like to order. (Cue the Cheers theme song . . .) Barry Levine heightens that feeling by writing this poem in the COVID era. The restaurant has probably been closed for at least three months, maybe six, maybe even a whole year. Yet the server is still there, and that person still remembers. Because re-openings were different everywhere, there’s no seasonal referent in this poem, but that doesn’t make it any less heartwarming.

close up of coffee cup
Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

tea tree swamp
weary workers pause
to boil their billy

Louise Hopewell, Echnidna Tracks #9

I placed this poem in the all-year category, though I admit that my lack of knowledge about the southern hemisphere might be interfering with my understanding of the poem. This haiku required some research on my end. To “boil their billy” means to make tea. Here, we see laborers taking a pause to rest and enjoy some tea. Tea-drinkers tend to drink it all year, workers tend to work year-round, and thus I placed this poem all year. However, if I’m incorrect, please let me know in the comments!

shared coffee
all the stories
we don’t tell

Lori Kiefer, Haikuniverse, October 5th, 2022

Just as devoted tea-drinkers can enjoy hot tea year-round, coffee drinkers usually take their beverage hot, even in the middle of summer. The avoidance of painful topics and/or the keeping of secrets also isn’t limited to a particular season. Lori Kiefer’s senryu does a beautiful job of showing a sense of distance even in physical proximity.


close up photo of raw green beans
Photo by Yulia Rozanova on Pexels.com

wind from the sea—
I clean the green beans
with my mother

Pasquale Asprea, Haikuniverse, June 26th, 2022

The act of shelling or cleaning beans can be a fun social activity. While it wasn’t something that happened in my family, I’ve cleaned a big garden haul with friends, many of whom shared fond memories of doing so in childhood. The green beans place this haiku in the summer. If you’re familiar with fresh sea air, it’s easy to feel the breeze, smell the salt, and feel the connection that comes from cleaning, preparing, or preserving food with a loved one.

I hope that as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, you have plenty of opportunity to share good meals with people you care about.

(PS – A shout out to the wonderful folks a Kampai who know my favorite items on the menu.)

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