by Jen Karetnick
Why Pasta Tasted Better on the Terrace The painting hung near the communal table, portrait of plastic surgery at Vino e Olio, syringe-stung lips pulled as if by the opposing tides of Aventura traffic, the skinny dorsal fin of nose, the eyes, shadowless, that would not approve my choices: sweetbreads to begin; a course of gnudi ravioli; suckling pig where I’d have skin as thick and easily shattered—more— than peanut brittle. Under my own flesh, sunk into celebratory fat, my bones hid like nougat. “Perhaps the patio.” The downpour was over. Bougainvilleas and a waitress trained, clung to a frame, beckoned outside.
European Menu Reader -- from Berlitz I failed at French with its slippery eel sounds but am willing to be sibilant for bouillabaisse, sarcelle, sabayon. I came late to Spanish though its beat appeals and I can keep basic rhythm to jamón and tortilla, rev it up with racy zarzuela. In the morning I have ordered pão followed by pökelfleisch for lunch and dinnertime bowls of acquacotta or brodetto simply because I like the sounds, regardless of country or sense, and because I can find them all in one book. With such worldly fluency I speak menu! With what delicious conceit!
Jen Karetnick is the author of three chapbooks: Necessary Salt, Bud Break from Mango House, and Landscaping for Wildlife (forthcoming from Big Wonderful Press). Her poems, prose, playwriting and journalism have appeared widely in Gastronomica, The Miami Herald, and The New York Times among other publications. She works as the dining critic for MIAMI Magazine and is the Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School.