Dishes Nobody Prepares Anymore
by Ute Carson
Manmarziyaan Magazine, May 2022

If you were a child in Germany in 1946
and survival was your recipe
you would have known
all the dishes of those post-war years--
Brennnesseln, Sauerampher, Bucheckern,
Steinpilze, Pfifferlinge, Fliegenpilze,
and, of course, Hollunderbeeren.
I was there and running along the railroad tracks
grabbing nettles which left blisters on my hands and arms.
Then I crouched at the edges of a brook
where sorrel could be cut for a spicy salad.
My grandparents led me into a forest,
all eyes focused on the ground,
gathering tiny nutritious beechnuts
to be shelled at home.
I learned that porcini mushrooms and chanterelles
are edible and to avoid the poisonous toadstool,
so attractive in its red cap and snowflake dots.
Wild blue-,rasp-,black-,and gooseberries
filled my pail to the brim, and in the evenings
I snuggled into the folds of my grandma's apron
while she stirred molasses in a wooden barrel
from the sugar beets I had earlier helped to pull
from sandy soil with all my might.
Many years later I happened upon a restaurant in Berlin
where delicious nettle soup garnished
with slices of boiled egg was on offer.
And with amused recognition I read Dylan Thomas's
childhood recollections of elderberry wine
and recalled my mother's elderberry soup
with teaspoon-sized wheat dumplings swimming on top.
How sweet even a sour-tasting harvest.
How my palate remembers!

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