Magazine article The Spectator

Competition: You're Toast

Magazine article The Spectator

Competition: You're Toast

Article excerpt

In Competition No. 2986 you were invited to submit a poem about a deadly foodstuff.

My inspiration for this assignment was the appalling news that toast can kill you, which is yet another depressing indication that everything good is bad for you. Or perhaps, as Max Gutmann suggests in the closing couplet of his winning entry, it's safer simply to regard all food as a potential enemy.

Honourable mentions to Mae Scanlan and Jennifer Moore, and £25 each to the winners. D.A. Prince scoops the bonus fiver.

Amanita phalloides!

Yes, my darling, just for you --

hunter-gathered when your need is

homely soup to add them to.

Fresh and creamy-clean, so wholesome;

don't they tempt your appetite!

Mushrooms feed your hungry soul; come

this soup is exactly right.

Shun the supermarkets' offering --

carbon footprint, packaged, stale;

these are handmade personal profferings

like the stuff of fairy tale.

Not for me, alas -- my diet:

but I'd have some if I could.

Still, you'll love it when you try it.

This will really do you good.

D.A. Prince

Some foods are dangerous -- e.g.

The pufferfish, fesikh, ackee,

Bullfrogs, blood clams -- but none of these

Disgusts like Casu Marzu cheese.

Remove a Pecorino crust

And flies swarm in to slake their lust

And lay their eggs and raise their young

Who'll lace the cheese with maggot dung.

The hard-core Casu Mazu buff,

The addict, cannot get enough.

He gladly eats -- and never squirms --

Intestine-perforating worms.

The Brussels bureaucrats can't stand it

And, pusillanimous, have banned it,

But anyone can beat the ban

Who knows a man who knows a man.

Basil Ransome-Davies

Their restaurant was a cause of strife

For Alice Higgins and her wife,

Since Alice loved to cook, while Honey

Saw their goal as making money.

At last they had a major tiff

And Alice gave her love a biff,

So Honey took a frozen joint

And thumped her back, to make a point.

Alas! Poor Alice took it ill

And broke her head upon the grill.

The newly-widowed Honey gasped

And dropped the brisket she had clasped.

So Honey had to learn to cook

By reading a prodigious book

And Alice, with her dainty taste,

Was not allowed to go to waste.

Frank Upton

Worse than the song of sirens, worse than gold,

Few earthly things match its destructive lure. …

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