Our latest Eating and Drinking Poems post is from Scott Edward Anderson, who, as a man about to marry, honors his fiancée for her phenomenal mind, body, and sassy spirit by dishing out some well-seasoned comfort food and a poem. Appropriately enough, he turns to another beloved woman: Maya Angelou, and proves that while poetry may be the food of love, the object of adoration deserves a savory meal as well.
Comfort food. It’s amazing how good it tastes and how good it makes you feel.
On New Year’s Day, my fiancée Samantha and I were alone, our six kids having gone to their respective other parents’ homes. It was cold and the holidays were wrapping up. We wanted some comfort food.
We love to cook. And because we love to cook, we enjoy shopping for our food together. Whether it’s the local farmer’s market on a Saturday morning, the grocery store or the corner bodega, we enjoy the prospect of discovery and trying new things.
So we ventured out to one of our local favorites and, because we were seeking comfort food, we headed for the meat department. (Sorry, vegan and vegetarian friends, but this omnivore has no dilemma.)
The butcher had an amazing array of meats. One advertised special caught our eye: “Spoon Roast.” What the heck was that? It sounded like comfort food to me. Turns out, Spoon Roast is not a new cut of beef, but rather beef sirloin, top sirloin roast or “sirloin beef bottom tips.” Apparently, with low and slow cooking, it comes out so tender you’re supposed to be able to scoop the meat with a spoon.
So we bought a cut for the two of us, and I found a few recipes online, which I modified a bit. I served it up with some shallot-mashed sweet potatoes and lacinato kale sautéed in coconut oil. It was delicious, and our apartment suddenly got very cozy, with a fire warming the cold night, especially coupled with a delightful bottle of Paumanok Merlot 2010.
I am never so comforted as when I dig into a plate of a good roast, a starch, and some greens. There seems to be a direct correlation between what we eat and the comfort it provides.
Here’s the recipe I modified,
Slow-Cooked Spoon Roast
3 lbs beef roast (spoon roast)
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves mashed & minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
dash ground cayenne pepper
1. Heat oven to 325°. Line a roasting pan with foil.
2. Put the roast in the pan and rub all over with the olive oil. Combine the garlic and remaining ingredients in a small bowl and rub all over and into the roast.
3. Roast for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 225°, and continue roasting for about 3 hours longer, or until done as desired. We like it medium rare for the most flavor.
4. Let the spoon roast rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
The spoon roast put me in mind of Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman.” I’m not sure whether it was the comfort of the food or that my fiancée and I have been having long discussions of late about looks, weight, and appearance as we prepare for our wedding in April.
“I’m not losing any weight, ” Samantha complains to me, after an hour-long workout at the gym.
“Muscle weighs more than fat, ” I reassure. “You’re building muscle and burning fat. It will even-out.”
I love her the way she is, but I sense her mounting frustration.
“Are you worried about the spoon roast?” I ask.
“No, ” she responded. “I’m worried I won’t lose any more weight.”
I smiled, knowing she would lose more weight and look great come our wedding.
In the end, however, she needs to be comfortable with herself and if that means she wants to lose weight, I’ll support her. If only I didn’t love to cook so much.
Maya Angelou also came to mind because she once said of her work that it “is meant to say, ‘You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated.’ In fact, the encountering may be the very experience which creates the vitality and the power to endure.”
Samantha is a phenomenal woman. And a phenomenal woman endures. She isn’t defeated. She gets her power from her uniqueness. She creates her own energy. She makes her beauty known by being herself. She’s comfortable with herself and knows what she wants.
Just then, Samantha wanted a nice piece of the spoon roast and a glass of wine. My phenomenal woman.
Here’s “Phenomenal Woman”:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
We’ll make your Saturdays happy with a regular delivery of the best in poetry and poetic things. Need a little convincing? Enjoy a free sample.
- Eating and Drinking Poems: Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” - January 30, 2014
- Poetry at Work: Poetry and Business Life - December 4, 2013