?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
Poem: "Pigeon Soup" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Pigeon Soup"

This poem came out of the December 6, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from moonwolf1988, aldersprig, and a previous conversation with marina_bonomi about traditional Italian livestock and related customs.  It has been sponsored by marina_bonomi

I was intrigued to learn that in Italy, the equivalent of chicken soup is pigeon soup.  So when a prompt came in for the use of soup for healing, I immediately thought of that.  I managed to find a decent recipe for pigeon soup online, though bear in mind that ingredients would vary with local availability, custom, and -- if the cook is a competent herbalist -- the symptoms at hand.  And yes, even culinary herbs have a surprising amount of medicinal properties, so the ones in the poem do match up.  


Pigeon Soup


Autumn came to the village
trailing skirts of oppressive grey rain.
Soon people began to get sick
and Fiorenza was kept busy
dashing from herb garden to stillroom.

Mad Ercole sat beside the hearth,
patiently stirring the cauldrons there.
Fiorenza felt his eyes upon her
as she hurried up to the dovecote
for yet another bird.

"If this keeps up much longer,"
the herbalist grumbled,
"we shall soon run out of pigeons!"
"Maybe that means," said Ercole,
"that something more than pigeon is needed."

Fiorenza thought about that.
Pigeon made for a rich, soothing broth
good for tempting the slack appetites of sick people.
There was garlic to help the body fight,
rosemary for strength and purification,
carrot for nourishment and revitalization.

But this time ... it wasn't quite working
as well as it usually did.
So Fiorenza wandered through the village
in search of answers, or failing that,
a more useful set of questions.

Bianca sneezed,
and the baker said "Salute!"
Alberto sneezed,
and the brewer said, "Felicita!"

Fiorenza herself sneezed,
and the priest said, "Che Dio ti benedica!"
and just like that, something shifted.

Quickly Fiorenza snagged Don Candido
by his sleeve and asked,
"Why did you say a blessing?"

"Had you not noticed we have a plague of imps?"
said Don Candido, clearly distracted.
"A plague of imps," mused Fiorenza.
"I was minding the plague of colds, myself."

"Sometimes the Devil sends imps
to spread sickness," the priest pointed out.
"That would explain," Fiorenza muttered,
"why my pigeon soup is less than effective."

"It takes prayers to drive out infernal influences,"
said Don Candido, "and I'm out of rosemary!"
"I'm nearly out of it myself," said Fiorenza.

"It's the stems I need, not the leaves,"
said the priest, "for burning as incense
to remind people of their health."
"Oh, the stems  I have left,"
said Fiorenza, and went to fetch some.

So Don Candido stayed up and up,
praying over the altar,
burning candles of beeswax
and the stems of rosemary,
working hard to drive away the imps
that were making everyone so sick.

"If you don't get some sleep,"
Fiorenza pointed out,
"you're going to catch cold yourself."
Don Candido merely shrugged
and said, "I could say the same about you
running about in the autumn rains,
especially as you forgot your cloak again."

Which was true and true,
as it proved out, for the turning of the week
found both Don Candido and Fiorenza
sniffling in bed -- but by that time,
the prayers had banished the imps so that
the pigeon soup soon made everyone feel better
exactly as it was supposed to do.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: December 9th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just love it.
The banter between Don Candido and Fiorenza and the way the two cooperate is a great point of this series and I really like how you succeed in giving each poem a very local feel through apparently small details.

It's true, each and every farm over here has a dovecote and pigeon soup and pigeon meat were either a dish for the great holidays or something to tempt the ill into eating or to give strenght to new mothers.

Also each house in the countryside had a grapevine somewhere, often growing near the door and giving it shadow (most of the time this one produced grapes for eating: uva Regina or Moscato), and a tree in the yard: a walnut or persimmon or quince tree for the use of the family.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 9th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> I just love it.<<

Yay!

>>The banter between Don Candido and Fiorenza and the way the two cooperate is a great point of this series and I really like how you succeed in giving each poem a very local feel through apparently small details.<<

I don't even have to poke them, they just do that. I think it's just one of those relationships where people express their affection through banter. Plus of course I had fun exploring a plot where Fiorenza wasn't the one with the crucial solution in hand.

*ponder* I wonder how long it's going to take Don Candido to realize that he isn't nearly as lonely as he used to be, anymore.

>>It's true, each and every farm over here has a dovecote and pigeon soup and pigeon meat were either a dish for the great holidays or something to tempt the ill into eating or to give strenght to new mothers.<<

I love discovering little tidbits like this while exploring other cultures. It reminds me that life is refractive -- the details vary, which creates interest, but the underlying concepts are largely similar. Chicken soup to pigeon soup. Both the differences and the similarities are important.

>>Also each house in the countryside had a grapevine somewhere, often growing near the door and giving it shadow (most of the time this one produced grapes for eating: uva Regina or Moscato), and a tree in the yard: a walnut or persimmon or quince tree for the use of the family.<<

Ooo ... now I must mull over these ideas and see if I can fit them in somewhere. Those are nice details. I have seen permaculture designs for gazebos or arbors with a grapevine to produce shade in summer, then allow the thin winter sunlight through for added warmth in the cold season.

Here in central Illinois, our yard has lots of black walnut trees. I've planted a few persimmons, which I love, although they're too young to bear fruit yet. We have a mature crabapple and pear tree, and a grovelet of pie cherries, along with a couple of young apple trees that occasionally bear some fruit and then the birdgift apple tree that's half yellow crab and half small yellow apple. I haven't planted a quince yet because those are mostly for jelly, which I don't make; but they're supposed to have splendid flowers, so I'm still kind of tempted.
siege From: siege Date: December 9th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

I've never eaten quince. I wonder how they'd do in a fruit salad.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 9th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Quince belongs to the rose family, related to pears and other fruit. It is tough and bitter, so rarely eaten raw. It might do as a minor ingredient in fruit salad if you shredded it. Then again, warmer climates can turn the fruit more palatable, so imported tropically grown quince might be edible raw.

I have to admit, I've wondered how it would perform in the bittersharp role for cider composition.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: December 9th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Quince is never eaten raw that I know of.
It's very hard (one must be really careful when cutting it)and it's...not really bitter (at least the varieties we have), but sour and feels dry. Cooking it changes the flavor dramatically and makes the fruit release its juice.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: December 9th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

My wife boils quinces with sugar and some of those little hot cinnamon candies. Yum.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 10th, 2011 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Ohhhh ... so kind of like pie filling? I am now rather more interested in quince as a possible orchard addition, given that I make pie filling to freeze. Our pear tree produces quite crunchy pears, which are great for cooking. Perhaps quince could be used similarly.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: December 9th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

I remember reading that the (classical) Romans used to eat raw quince for fertility problems.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: December 9th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

...And I really love it when I get to see what to me are everyday things through the eyes of someone living half a world away.

American things are so widespread over here that one is almost led to believe that our cultures are way more similar than they actually are, often it's the small things that uncover the truth.

>I haven't planted a quince yet because those are mostly for jelly, which I don't make; but they're supposed to have splendid flowers, so I'm still kind of tempted.<

Your yard must be really something. Yes quince threes are beautiful and the fruit has a lovely fragrance, over here there was the use of putting a quince in a wardrobe or a drawer to scent the bedsheets or the underwear.

Another detail you might like: it was common in vine-growing places (that is, almost everywhere in Italy) to have rosebushes at the head and the end of the rows of vines, that was because the roses are more sensitive than vines to some ilnesses and parasites, so, if the rose got ill one had warning enough to save the grapevines. The practice is coming back and there is a new rose variety bred just for that, the Bardolino http://www.davidaustinroses.com/italian/showrose.asp?showr=6124
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: December 9th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

David Austin roses are lovely...
tuftears From: tuftears Date: December 9th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice. ^_^

I've made some hot'n'sour soup recently but it didn't come out too well; not enough water in ratio to the ingredients, so I'm going to have to thin it out. I should try adding rosemary.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 10th, 2011 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Eeew, pigeon soup? Pigeons are rats with wings!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 10th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

I've had dove, which is basically a different variety of pigeon. It's quite good. I think if I ever get dove again, I'm inclined to try making soup or stock from it.
13 comments or Leave a comment