Myra Kornfeld, Fashion Design ’85

Poems and recipes both celebrate the glories of nature, ingredients at the peak of ripeness in the optimal environment. And the outcome of each, whether through language or ingredients, is something that’s magically blended. My husband, Stephen Massimilla, is a poet, and I’m a chef, and we wrote Cooking with the Muse, a cookbook about the synergy between poetry and food. Sometimes we chose recipes because they paired well with poems we loved; other times, Stephen wrote a poem to complement a recipe of mine.

The book opens at the liminal moment between summer and autumn when the blackberry muse is at the height of her powers. The two poems we featured here, “Blackberry Eating” by Galway Kinnell and “August” by Mary Oliver, inspired us to present a luscious blackberry parfait. The recipe is so simple: The macerated blackberries make their own sauce, which swirls into the pillowy, ambrosial cream.

In the last line of “August,” “this happy tongue” refers both to how we taste food and to language (as when we speak in our own tongue). The poems and the recipe hit the same inspired and inspiring note, a celebration of both words and fruit, the secret to a “happy tongue.”

Kornfeld is a culinary educator, cookbook author, and natural chef. Her first book, The Voluptuous Vegan, has gone into eight printings. Cooking with the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry, and Literary Fare (Tupelo Press, 2016) by Kornfeld and Massimilla contains 150 recipes, hundreds of poems, and essays, too.

Featured illustration by Monika Maniecki, Illustration MA ’07. Poetry credit: “August” from American Primitive. Copyright © 1983 by Mary Oliver. Used by permission of Little, Brown, and Company.