Book spine poetry: the food edition

Book spine poetry: the food edition

Kid One was quite amused to see me standing in the kitchen this morning, staring intently at books piled on the counters while “Appalachian Spring” played on the iPod dock. He thought it would make a great scene from a movie – I’m hoping he was imagining a romantic comedy of some sort, although knowing him, more likely it was the prelude to a zombie invasion.

I was actually not auditioning for my son, though, I was trying my hand at book spine poetry, a concept introduced to me recently by Susan Bearman via Brain Pickings in honor of National Poetry Month. All you have to do is arrange a pile of books so that the titles say something poetic, profound, or perhaps preposterous. It would be a great party game if you had lots of books and a few nerdy friends.

This morning I decided to handicap myself by choosing only food fiction or food fact books. There’s a collection spilling around the kitchen; I thought it would be easy. But turns out a shelf of titles starting with “The” and ending in “Cookbook” is a bit limiting, and try as I might I couldn’t figure out how to put “The Widow Cliquot” together with “A Goose In Toulouse” and “The Nasty Bits” without cheating. Here’s the first one I came up with:

What Einstein Told His Cook:
The Sweet Life in Paris
Tastes of Paradise.
Fruits & Vegetables,
Secret Ingredients,
Are You Hungry Tonight?

And then this more haiku-inspired poem:

Pacific Feast
From My Mexican Kitchen,
Fish, Without a Doubt.

Then I played around with this one:

Long Ago in France,
Julie & Julia
Mastering the Art of French Cooking –
Pot On The Fire,
Adventures in the Kitchen –
The Year of Eating Dangerously.

Then Kid One got into it and trumped me. This may be more along the lines of a horror edition of book spine poetry, but I laughed. Really hard. See if you agree:

Julie & Julia
Coming Home To Eat
The Village Baker –
Blood, Bones, & Butter,
One Bite Won’t Kill You.

Excellent work, my dear. I’m proud to be your mother.

So now I know how to tie those titles together without cheating:

A Goose in Toulouse
Coming Home to Eat
The Widow Cliquot:
Blood, Bones, & Butter,
The Nasty Bits –
No Reservations

Thanks to Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Gary Paul Nabhan for such descriptive titles!


  1. That’s funny

  2. Great Job Number One!

  3. Kid 1’s was a riot, but your follow up as good! Hehe…now you have me wasting time with my twins; I had the Book Report’s site(bookreportradio(dot)com) open to see the line-up for this afternoon’s radio show, and we’re playing with the archived lists of books for each week. Some simpler than others, but making for much laughter. Somehow their line-up this week (which also happen to be culinary themed) aren’t nearly as descriptive as yours. “What Einstein told his cook” and “The Table comes First” sound so promising but the rest just don’t “fit”. This is actually such a good game for the kids(and me) to get creativity flowing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Pat, I’m glad you found me and so happy you commented. Please take a photo of what you and your kids come up with; I”d love to do a follow-up! Cheers,


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *