To Make It Taste A Bit Better —

(Poetry lovers, maybe you’d better skip this post. It may strike you as irreverent — although those who appreciate and love good food may find it a refreshing, even provocative, observation.)

Prolific author Alexander McCall Smith’s first fictional creation is probably his most beloved, the “traditionally built” #1 Detective Precious Ramotswe of Botswana. In the latest in his series about the proprietor of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, Mma Ramotswe is sitting in the relative cool of an evening with her husband on the verandah, listening to the sounds of the insects:

“Insects who were silent from dawn to dusk had their say once the sun went down, knowing, perhaps, that the birds were elsewhere. Those who lived in the Kalahiri, or on its fringes, were told as children that these chirruping noises at night, these sounds that were like high-pitched clicks, were the stars in the sky calling their hunting dogs. And it sounded just like that, thought Mma Ramotswe, although all these things that sound so right were often just poetry, really — the gravy we put on reality to make it taste a bit better.”

The charm of stars calling to their hunting dogs? That’s okay. But who is to denigrate the goodness of gravy poured over turkey or mashed potatoes or stuffing, enhancing and intensifying the flavor? No, this is not nothing, this poetry stuff, this gravy of life. I’m with Mma on this one! Pass the gravy, please —

This entry was posted in Etcetera, Food, Poetry, Quotes, Reading and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to To Make It Taste A Bit Better —

  1. SandySays1 says:

    I’m next!


  2. Pauline says:

    “Just poetry” ? Gravy? To me, really good poetry is the reality, the essence, the just-the-right-word description of life, the main course where everything else is sides… and gravy 😉

    Having said that, I agree that gravy can enhance some foods just as it can smother the taste of others. Likewise, some poetry can smother an idea but real poetry, precise, well-written poetry, brings out the flavor of words.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      “real poetry, precise, well-written poetry, brings out the flavor of words”
      Which is exactly what REAL gravy (as opposed to flour pasty glop) does to real food.
      Actually, despite the post, I like ’em both.
      But I loved Smith’s words in Mma Ramotswe’s mouth —-


    • tms says:

      Pauline, I like what you say about the essence here – since I also like food, here is another parallel: A good sauce (French school here) often gets ‘reduced’, simmered till some of the liquid’s gone and the aromas are brought out more strongly. I never saw this parallel. I am delighted. And looking forward to the next portion.
      Sorry for being a bit slow with my comments though.


  3. love it and love the books too!! hey if poets can’t laugh at ourselves, my goodness, let’s just stop writing then. Although i know some poets who would disagree. Mind you the same ones would disagree with me referring to myself as one of ’em. so there.
    Pass the gravy, please.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      At last! The opportunity to write ROFLOL —
      Great comment, Joss. You get a laurel wreath from me, poet.
      And do you love all the books, not just the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency ones?
      Scotland Street? And Isabel Dalhousie and the Philosophy series?
      And the ones about Portuguese irregular verbs? The man is a writing machine!
      (But he doesn’t write poetry 😉


  4. David Elpern says:

    Arthur Frank in his book, “At the Will of the Body” (1991) likens the time after his cure from testicular cancer as gravy — also — the extra stuff one gets after a rough time. It’s in the last chapter of this fine meditation on illness. As I remember it, he feels that people like him are members of “the gravy society.” So, I liked this post. Thank you.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      That is a really fascinating suggestive phrase —
      The Gravy Society – Yes –
      In a lot of ways, I think maybe my particular generation could relate to that. Not that there hasn’t been our share of darkness too, but many of us by sheer timing have also been in a good place at a good time.
      For that matter, a lot of the world might consider that the United States is a Gravy Society too —
      And the least we could do is be grateful, and try not to squander it!
      Thanks so much for coming in out of the Great Outdoors to get to your computer 🙂
      (I think I’m using this phrase in a different sense than he is, but it’s his phrase that’s suggestive for me! Will check out the book.)


  5. suitablefish says:

    I love what Mma Ramotswe says about the stars calling in the hunting dogs for the night. Thanks for sharing that story. Pass the gravy, PLEASE. And thanks for “socko”! Love the word, made me laugh.


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