Why Waste Good Food? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 10, 2010
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
“Why waste good food?”
Esther said, mopping up soup with
Rye bread
The kind from the corner bakery
With caraway seeds and a hard crust
You never know when the next Great
Depression will come
So eat this while you can
And be grateful it's not
Only potatoes
Gathered from a frozen field in Poland.
Try to blend in
Blintzes are too sweet
Yiddish too foreign
Go to school
Move away.
Don't be Jewish
Be American.
My dad
Grew up eating caraway seeds
Culturally, he told a friend,
He is “secular American”
Not culturally Jewish
When he moved to
Minneapolis he called Esther
Asked for her recipes,
Blintzes, latkes, hamentashen
For him to copy down.
She didn't understand
Why would her grandson,
Halfway done with medical school,
Associate himself
Go out of his way
To go back that same trail
Esther spent her time bushwhacking.
I made those blintzes.
I used the wrong cheese
And too much sugar
Esther would have said
“Too sweet”
Too sweet for the woman who had
Two lives
One to forget and one to remember.
I burned myself twice
Making those blintzes
Could hardly read
My dad's
20-year-old handwriting,
But they were good.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

Myrtle25 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm
i love your word choice (particularly "bushwhacking!") and the way you use foods and language as symbols of cultural identity. Like other commentors, I thought there was an awkward shift at the 13th line- it seemed like it could have been two different poems.
the_Horsegirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 20, 2011 at 10:26 am
Thank you, Myrtle! I appreciate your comment :)
lasterling said...
Mar. 16, 2011 at 8:53 am
Wow! The tone is nostaligic and wistful, but the poem/story conveys the tension between the almost-violent rejection of the old and our need to know where we come from (and what we've lost). I love how you burn your fingers trying to make the forgotten recipe. Beautiful job!
IamtheshyStargirl said...
Mar. 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm


Gorgeous, goegeous, gorgeous.

I could sense a hint of the Holocaust under this poem, I don't know why. Maybe because I studied it once, though not enough to ever memorize any of the dates.


bookmouse replied...
May 12, 2013 at 11:16 pm
Mabye it was the burn that hinted at the Holocaust/Shoah...
IamtheshyStargirl replied...
Jul. 31, 2013 at 10:19 pm
I don't think so, it was probably more all of the allusions to Judaism and not having enough. Potatoes and caraway seeds and never knowing when the next great depression will be. Poland as well
CaptainFabulous. said...
Feb. 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm
this is good
im pretty sure i understand it
i think the only thing i dont understad is the the names of the food and whatnot
i do like how it is a story as well as a poem like EmC725 said
EmC725 said...
Jan. 26, 2010 at 4:35 pm
I really like this! Great description! The 13th line confused me a little, and there the topic switch was hard to follow for me. I'm still not completely sure what the rest of the poem has to do with the beginning, even so it works. Not to be mean, but the switch from "dad" to "grandson" also confused me a little. Never the less, it's a great poem, and I like how it's a story within a poem.
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback