Nancy Willard on how to stuff a pepper
An award winning writer of children’s books, the late Nancy Willard was also a novelist, poet and an observer of ordinary things. Even better, she wrote recipes … my kind of recipes.
I’m a cook who doesn’t like to be told. Entice me with visions then leave the rest to me. Thank you Nancy. I’m headed home to stuff a capsicum, though mine will be red. Ok with you?
Now, said the cook, I will teach you
how to stuff a pepper with rice.
Take your pepper green, and gently,
for peppers are shy. No matter which side
you approach, it’s always the backside.
Perched on her green buttocks, the pepper sleeps.
In its silk tights, it dreams
of somersaults and parsley,
of the days when the sexes were one.
Slash open the sleeve
as if you were cutting into a paper lantern,
and enter a moon, spilled like a melon,
a fever of pearls,
a conversation of glaciers.
It is a temple built to the worship
of morning light.
I have sat under the great globe
of seeds on the roof of that chamber,
too dazzled to gather the taste I came for.
I have taken the pepper in hand,
smooth and blind, a runt in the rich
evolution of roses and ferns.
You say I have not taught you
to stuff a pepper?
Cooking takes time.
Next time we’ll consider the rice.
‘How to stuff a pepper’ from Nancy Willard’s Carpenter of The Sun, Liveright, 1974.