Let’s Eat — A Writer’s Guide to Cooking

I made lentil soup yesterday, and naturally it reminded me of Kahlil Gibran’s beautiful little play Lazarus and His Beloved, in which the mother of Lazarus says to her daughter Mary early on, “The lentils must not be overcooked.” The play focuses on the poor recently resurrected Lazarus, who spends his time wandering alone in the hills and being angry with Jesus for interfering and bringing him back to life. An intriguing premise.

Meanwhile, there is something magical about sitting down to a bowl of lentils on a quiet winter evening. One cup of lentils. I also threw in a large handful of split peas, and a small handful of pearled barley. Two large cloves of garlic finely chopped, one medium-sized yellow onion sliced, three tomatoes diced, about a third of a cup of olive oil, a handful of chopped parsley, a little bit of chopped bell pepper, two tender stalks of celery with the leaves, two carrots thinly sliced cross-wise, and enough water in a four-quart pan to keep the mixture from turning into sludge. There is probably a more poetic way of putting this, but, I assure you, the result is poetic enough. Salt. Pepper. Dried purple basil. Good God, I use a lot of that stuff. I added the lentils, split peas, and pearled barley after the other ingredients had simmered for forty-five minutes or so.

I think I could write a poem about lentils if I put my mind to it.

Lazarus, come forth!
your lentils will be cold
and Lazarus frowned
lentils three days
in a row.

On the other hand, I guess you had to be there. Or maybe his mother didn’t use enough water. Lentil soup tends to thicken overnight, especially if you use a handful of pearled barley, which expands and absorbs moisture. So, unless you plan to eat it all on the first day, make sure your soup is soupy enough.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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