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Poem: "Half-Baked Ideas" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Half-Baked Ideas"

This poem came out of the July 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from eseme who wanted to read about a baker; and tangentially by the_vulture who gave me the idea for Dron the barkeeper in "Where the Action Is, and Was, and Ever More Shall Be."  Of course a village has more than one establishment, so here is a poem about Dron's neighbor across the street, Brilla the baker.

Half-Baked Ideas

Brilla the baker
watched Dron the barkeeper
toss out a couple of drunken dwarves
followed by a broken chair.

She smiled and waved
at her neighbor across the street.
Dron was good for the business around here,
always bringing the adventurers in (and often out).

Brilla was a practical sort herself.
She kept the bakery,
and that was good enough for her.
It didn't have to be fancy.

Oh, there were bakers in the palace
who turned out enchanted candies
and pies full of live birds
and other such nonsense.

Brilla didn't bake anything like that.
She made hardtack and waybread
and pocket pies that would keep for a week.
Adventurers loved that sort of thing.

She only had one magical item on the menu,
a particular sort of nutcake that never suffered
from overcooking or undercooking
or any other kind of distraction.

Brilla put a batch in the oven every morning,
because the oven's outer wall attracted apprentice bards
who couldn't afford a room with a fireplace in it,
so they huddled against the warm bricks and sang.

The dough for the nutcakes was very forgiving,
and particularly sticky, so that as the magic rose up
from the huddle of bards it soaked into the dough,
and Brilla always knew when the batch was done.

Then the baker would pull out the hot cakes
and put them up on the counter:
Half-Baked Ideas, 1cp.
She always sold out by early afternoon.

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Current Mood: busy busy

21 comments or Leave a comment
tuftears From: tuftears Date: July 8th, 2011 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm curious, isn't half-baking something usually undercooking? };)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2011 07:06 am (UTC) (Link)


Half-baked does typically mean undercooked. That particular recipe just happens to be very forgiving, so as the poem says, it doesn't suffer from being either undercooked or overcooked.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: July 8th, 2011 07:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Oh! I read it as meaning the recipe was magical in that it was impossible to undercook or overcook it. Slightly different meaning. };)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

No, just good for picking up ambient magic from the bards.

*sigh* From the comments, it looks like I didn't unpack enough detail in this poem.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: July 9th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Occupational hazard of being a poet/writer. ^_^
siege From: siege Date: July 8th, 2011 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I've learned that cinnamon rolls with traditional dough are very hard to bake right. They can easily come out of the oven hard, burnt, or chewy, and bakers who choose to undercook them have to set them aside for a half-day or more to dry out before glazing and selling.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Those are on the other end of the scale, yes. Some recipes, even if they aren't very fancy, are really really fussy about cooking time or temperature.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: July 8th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yum, and I love the story. And now I'm hungry... ;-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)


It takes a really good piece to evoke that much resonance. I'm flattered.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: July 8th, 2011 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

*smile* nutcakes. I really need to figure out a recipe for nutcakes.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2011 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

They are among the more filling recipes, usually not to hard to make and forgiving of minor variations. I haven't created a nutbread recipe, but I do have one for oatmeal-date bars with pistachios:
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: July 12th, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Sounds delicious!! Thanks for sharing :-)
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


>> Even though I no longer bake for a living, it's still in my soul, and this one touches me right there. <<

I'm happy to hear this. I bake at home sometimes, so that's helpful background.

>> I'm much with Brilla, too. I never cared to learn how to make the fancy cakes and pastries, I've only ever wanted to make good, simple bread and cookies. <<

*nod* In keeping with low fantasy, not everyone wants to be a hero or stand at the center of attention. Some people just want to do their job and take pride in their work. Very few people need fancy enchanted pastries, but everybody needs bread.

>> I love the bit about the broke Bards and the heat from the oven, too. Can't even really find words for it right now, but it's beautiful. <<

Hee! That's actually an outgrowth of my knowledge of history (bakeries were often made with an oven wall of stone or brick) and thermodynamics (certain oven materials have lots of thermal mass, so will radiate heat evenly and long), leading to the idea that a bakery would tend to create a warm spot attractive to chilled people. The fantasy twist is simply that it attracts apprentice bards (a riff on the starving musician) and that there's a way to harvest and use the ambient magic from their practice. That ties back to the low fantasy theme, too, in terms of using what you have and making do.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

>>Ah, I didn't get that she was using the spillover magic from the Bards to make the little cakes.<<

Poem needs to be unpacked more, based on feedback. I may take a poke at revising this.

>> The rest, yeah, flows pretty naturally, though in places where it was typically that cold, I think the Ovens were generally placed as centrally in the building as possible, to keep the heat in. That's rather less than half-remembered, though, so don't quote me there.<<

Depends on the climate. Somewhere like Russia, yes; in fact they have ovens/stoves you can sleep on. Somehow. (I learned that in Russian class.) In most places, a full-size bakery oven generates more heat than is comfortable for a building to contain (especially in summer) so they are usually built on outer walls to allow radiant heat dispersal. That makes a warm spot on the far side of the wall. Sometimes this is used to heat areas where a flaming stove would be bad: a stable, a sickroom, children's playspace, etc. I'm positing Gloryroad Cross in a temperate region, and they haven't enclosed their warm spot, so it's just attracting chilled bystanders.

zianuray From: zianuray Date: July 26th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

I had gotten that the magic went into the pies, but then I'm a bit of a head-in-the-clouds, so that would fit.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 26th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Generally if several people point out something as a flaw, I'll try to correct it -- and it looks like the connection between nutcakes and apprentice bards was originally not strong enough to be clear to everyone.
zianuray From: zianuray Date: July 26th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

*Heh* I'm used to being the odd one out :) (Not criticizing those who didn't get it, as it is possible I could have read too much in.)
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: July 3rd, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

I didn't get that part either.

Still a cool story poem.
eseme From: eseme Date: July 9th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also hadn't realized where the magic for the pies was coming from.

But I love her attitude, and the descriptions of the bakery. I'm happy to have inspired this one!
eseme From: eseme Date: July 26th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
The new verse makes it much clearer! Thank you!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 26th, 2011 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)


I'm glad this helped.
21 comments or Leave a comment