Whatever its shape

In retrospect, perhaps it wasn’t the wisest of things to do, but I spent the weekend cooking and baking. To be more precise, I received a tutorial from a master chef, my stepmother, in the art of creating some of my favorite Hungarian dishes, her specialty. We made veal paprikash with spaetzle, roast duck with red cabbage, Gerbaud Torte and walnut beigli –  an assortment of dishes with sufficient butter and cholesterol to keep a team of cardiologist busy for some time to come. And what’s the point of making all these wonderful creations if you don’t sample the product? Good food, accompanied by fine wine, shared with friends and family – what better way do we have to spend our time?  This short preamble seems an appropriate introduction to the following poem.




I finally notice it at a dinner party,

the  way it stretches my shirt,

its urgency from the cake I’ve eaten,

its nerdy gurgles all the way home.


My wife has noticed it too.

She eyes it from her side of the bed.

My belly is new topography for us. She says,

You really should do something about that.


I take it by the car to the doctor’s office,

sit among other people with wrong-sized parts;

there is a swollen hand in the lap next to me,

a puffy face staring at me over the magazines.


When it’s my turn, the doctor examines my roundness

as though an explorer determined to map me;

there may be an alternative route to the Indies

laid out somewhere on these curving new lines.


Eventually, the doctor relaxes on the rolling stool,

assures me that everything will be all right in time.

It seems that I have merely eaten too much.

If I just eat less, the doctor assures me, the gut will shrink.


I ponder this on the drive home, my hand on my belly.

It sits in my lap like an old cat, thinking about its next meal.

Have I really eaten too much, belly? I ask it. Could it be?

There is only the sound of the car and the world around the car.


At the dinner table, my wife and I discuss the situation.

She agrees with the doctor. I nod, but I’m not so sure.

I eat my normal amount of dinner though we talk about changes,

about reduced portion size and exercise and a long, long life.


Then I wash the dishes contemplatively with my belly against the sink.

The air, in the kitchen and out the open window, is a fog of spices;

everywhere is the rising scent of this city and beyond.

I can’t help myself. I’m still hungry for more.


David H. Ebenbach


This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Whatever its shape

  1. Marge says:

    What a wonderful poem, Jorge…
    My beloved and I have noticed a little of that new topography in the physicality of our own lives.
    In enjoying our life together, it\’s only logical that we would both enjoy the fact that I\’m a pretty good cook.
    Our girth increases proportionately with our contentment, it appears.
    When it\’s warmer, we\’ll enjoy being outdoors: biking, hiking, walking,
    hopefully eating less and doing more.
    Perhaps some of that topography will shrink  little…
    Thank you for the smile!

  2. Barb says:

    The Hungarian dishes sound wonderful, I haven\’t had roast duck
    or red cabbage in a very long time..(now I am hungry)
    The poem was great! I sat here giggling knowing why I have not
    had the above for a long time.. out come the carrots.
    Thanks for the memories and the grin:)Barb

  3. sweeti's says:

    haha ur writing so easy abt ur belly..I think ur belly is  normal yes???
    well Jorge  
    good food … a glas of wine …  nice talking friends…sweet  envirnment   What do we need more??
    and seems u have good relationship with ur stepmother   ..so thats  beautiful
    enjoy   …the good times

  4. EbonyWyvernDragon says:

    I\’m in shape……round IS a shape!!!!!!!!!
    Life is meant to be lived – and anything (in moderation) including the stuff that make cardiologists wealthy – is GOOD!
    the (very LARGE) Dragon

  5. Beth says:

    The poem is fun, unfortunately true.
    The food and cooking; I would bet everything tasted as good as it sounds.

  6. Fenix says:

    Hello Jorge:
    Its very funny. You always make my smile
    Have a great weekend

  7. Anastasia says:

    It\’s quite wonderful you still have a window to your "home country".  My Lithuanian hertige brought a love of potato pancakes and nut breads and pierogies (made with curds not potatos inside).  So many ties to our ancestry live in such small things; baking, traditional foods, habits of arranging our homes (like tables in corners covered with pictures of family passed), crocheted pillows and quilts and afgans.  So many of those connections to the older world died with my grandmother and only as a much older woman do I really appreciate the tradgedy of what was lost.  And thanks for poem!

  8. Kathryn says:

    Oh! I love this – love the sensory savory blog post you have here….and I am very much loving that poem – prose poetry -ahhh, love llove it…..so glad I came by; I have a big smile on my face!

  9. PJ says:

    Good Afternoon Jorge,
    It is rather strange that we ( you and I ) seem to post entries pertaining to the same things. LOL. When you come by ..you will understand.
    My favorite line from the poem is this:
    My belly is new topography for us.<——-TOO FUNNY!
    As usual I enjoyed my visit here. You never disappoint me.
    The Hungarian delicacies sound absolutely scrumptuous!! Yoummmmmmm. I am sure all enjoyed and forget about the cardiologist…if we spend all our time worrying that..well..rice cakes and rabbit food. LOL.
    Until next time….Keep Smiling.

  10. Etan says:

    I know the feeling.

  11. Aimee says:

    maybe THAT is my problem…
    *~* :o) always remember to be happy… :o) because you never know who is falling in love with your smile… :o) *~* 

  12. Barb says:

    Thanks for your visit and the comments left behind, always appreciated:)
    I also got to re read this poem ..bonus!

  13. dawn says:

    Whatever its shape: Bellylol. you\’re cute, Jorge! \’agreed that there is no better way to spend time and even more so that proof of the pudding is in the eating :p

  14. Kathryn says:

    My birthday is Tuesday – what kind of cake or pastry would you prepare if you were preparing my birthday "cake" ? Is there a specialty from the area?
    My body parts are quite demanding, Jorge, yes…..always yack yack yack nag nag nag – my back is a naughty spoiled child! And we know now about my bitch bladder….geez…all day long, blab blab blab to me… (teehee)

  15. sweeti's says:

    U have to listen to the song  Jorge
    the more u hear the better  it becomes
    Zenjoy ur weekend
    lots of love for u and ur loved ones

  16. PJ says:

    Good Eevening Jorge,
    Yes, I had a wonderful day. We went to see my youngest Grand-Daughter\’s last basketball game of the season. She received a beautiful Medal and it was very nice to be there. Our other Grand-Daughter..the eldest..was bowling. The weather cooperated with us for our short 5 hour round trip, however; it started snowing about an hour ago and we have at least 2" of the white stuff now. ( No snow in the forecast..go figure ). I was watching it come down (from my favorite wicker chair next to patio door/hot tea in hand) looking North on the property where we have an all natural backyard. All the low-voltage lighting shining up through the mature trees…Quite a sight. It is beautiful! Of course you should know by now that I prefer Palm trees, ocean breezes, and sand, but  I shall take what God is providing me with right at this very moment. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by..always a pleasure to see you have been there. I am hoping this finds you having a wonderful weekend, as well . ( Work or no work. )
    Until next time….Keep Smiling.

  17. Holy says:

    I read this whilst suffering the effects of big dinner…grilled chicken on kaiser and a nice big salad and a nice shiraz to wash it down.My belly is soft and full but not too full so as not to cheat and have a bowl of orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream.What can I say? "I can\’t help myself.  I\’m still hungry for more."Maybe this is what Buddhists mean when they speak of soft belly meditation. Hmmm…..Be well, Jorge.

  18. Joe says:

    Damn, this opens up floodgate.  Shall we start with the 20 mg. Lipitor nightly?  Or simply the bivey of blood pressure medication.  If my doc were a quack I\’d be dead (but worth some $$).  How is it that I work my ass off all week and I\’m really worth more dead.
    Oh well. 
    I have a midnight snack of BBQ tri-tip calling my name…

  19. Kathryn says:

    Oh!!! thank you for stopping by and "baking" me that cake! Jorge, that is the perfect cake for me – thank you *big smile*

  20. Cheryl says:

    I loved the Belly poem. 

  21. Charlotte says:

    Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend of the "real old world foods" …  There are so many lost arts in cooking and what a wonderful thing that your stepmom is so helpful.  I loved the poem.  Can certainly relate…  Enjoy the day. hugs, lottemae

  22. Stephen Craig says:

    Jorge,  What a fine post!  I almost bought a red cabbage this afternoon to blanche and braze with butter, cloves, whole black pepper corns and a dash of sweet.  Love roast duck with lingonberries or sauce Melba.  I like to jazz up the sauce Melba with Kikkomen soy, ginger and a dash of Tobasco.   Sigh!  My Dr. put me on statins…………and I will enjoy some poached salmon with nori rice and a side of black beans with tomatoes, garlic, onion, mirepoix, seasonings and a fine old vine red zinfandel.   Maybe tomorrow I will fall off of the oatmeal and bean diet……….then broil some lamb chops with spatzle or bread dumplings, red cabbage or beets and onions, with brussels sprouts saute\’ with poppy seeds, garlic, onion, a splash of lemon and real BUTTER!
    As ever be well. 
    Stephen Craig Rowe

  23. Jane says:

    Chuckle…the slender girl of my youth now lies beneath a layer of jiggle…I\’m still not overweight, but it\’s time to keep the curves in check 🙂

  24. J says:

    I have to chase the spelunkers away from my belly button at least twice a month.

  25. J says:

    I\’ve seen this happen before. Now I know it\’s not intentional!

  26. Betty says:

    Hi Jorge,
    The Hungarian dishes sound so good!  A goulash with lots of paprika was one of my family\’s staples.  It was one of my aunt\’s specialties.  She was French and we don\’t know where she got the recipe, but my family remembers it fondly and regrets that not one of us got the recipe.
    The belly poem is too funny and too true.
    I loved your observations about the commercilization of all holidays.  Dean and I were not great gift givers.  Dean was gift-impaired when forced by Madison Avenue to come up with a gift, but he was an outstanding gift giver when prompted by emotion or seeing something that he thought I would like.  My favorite gift from him was a jewelry box he had made in secret at his workshop in Montana when I was not there.  When I opened the jewelry box there was a small manila envelope which contained a lovely Tiffany set diamond ring.  I already had a diamond engagement ring that he had given me many years ago, but he thought that the lovely jewelry box he made for me called for something special.  Ah, the memories.

  27. Jill says:

    Dear Jorge,
    It\’s been quite a while. This last post of yours is right up my alley. Being that I am an ex-overweight person and a cook, I identify with all you wrote. I must say my cooking is quite delicious and the curves it produces are the kind that keeps you away from the doctor\’s office!
    I just produced three international weeks of cooking shows…Mexico…Israel and Lebanon.  In retrospect, a few years ago a filming team of ours went to Canada and conversed with a very charming Lebanese restaurant owner. He gave us the three rules to a happy life…
    Two…WORK HARD!!!!!
    and Three…….
    Last night I wrote a new post. Hope you have the chance to stop by.

  28. KatSoup says:

    Sounds like stepmom is a wonderful cooking teacher.  I loved the poem.  It reminds me of myself.

  29. Gelert says:

    Hey Jorge – what\’s a belly?
    Your blog always cheers, interests and enlivens. Thanks Mate.

  30. the1stephzen says:

    Just stopping in to read.  You know, so many of my friends have great book lists.  You do.  Now I need to reread or read for the first time!!

  31. Joe says:

    Ate at friends\’ house.  Not much healthy (or even Kosher), but damn good.  Just one more serving…just one more serving…I\’m 5 lbs shy of being a 51 year-old sumo wrestler.

  32. the says:

    Wow!  I have that same belly!  Peace.

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