Steam wooshes out from ovens
while chipped bowls glisten in hot mist.
Chopped bird’s eye chilli partake
in sweet, burbling romance
with a mixture of legalized
incendiary, one-minute highs.
The inscrutable gaze of honeyed pitch
seems to survey my half-faint face –
First. Rice bowls laid on oily tables,
collect the change of $2 notes.
Next, clean all utensils including
grubby, sweaty hands and
lastly: a salutation is uttered
to belatedly consoled hungers,
before we begin our meals.
A single sip, tentative pause.
Roll it round the tongue:
Do the “I’m 3/4 thinking,
1/4 dreaming” furrowed brow,
then big it up further still
with quasi-intellectual frowns –
The first exclamation detonates
from an overly busy mouth.
Bowls overfill, throats choke.
Eyes water, wolfberries are swallowed.
The cursory bite of an unknown herb
soon brings forth an illumination
from a cheerful, seasoned cook.
Then an unrelated interjection
is offered; one part one-liner,
question and tantalizingly
“Will the soup still remain faithful
even with the increasing numbers?”
No one bothers to concur, since
gradual sinkholes are never worth
the tread. The first taste, of course,
always decides the eventual course taken.
Chopsticks jab, scoop and please;
digging into golden broths spiced with wine
as rice grains fall; white, fluffy, forgotten –
collateral victims of greed, abandoned sheep.
Will they be wiped off by unwashed cloths
or feasted upon by greedy, one-legged mynahs?
Tis’ a battle between the two, I suppose –
but one fact remains a beautiful constant
(or, for some, an aesthetically gruesome truth):
The hygiene levels of coffee-shops here
are always represented by muted certificates
in these millenia block fonts…
© Zelda Reville
Day 25 for NaPoWriMo. A hard-disk corruption hijacked my attempts for two poems tonight, plus I really, really wanted to use the taste prompt from Day 27…but I ended up going way off-course with a poem about double boiled ginseng soup. Well done me! 😄 Plus jabbering about food in the night makes me so hungry. I wish I could have attached a photo of what I was talking about but free stock photos of Ginseng Chicken Soup are curiously evasive at the moment, so here’s an article about how to make this (complete with picture of mentioned soup). As always, I’m not responsible for razed kitchens or horrible soup.