WHETHER THEY love it or hate it, escape to it or from it, women talk about the one place that both entraps and empowers them - the kitchen," says the back cover blurb of Kitchen Talk (Red Deer College Press, 302 pages, 18.95 paper), a delicious smorgasbord of poetry and prose by women writers edited by Edna Alford and Claire Harris. I must admit that the all too familiar pairing of females and domesticity had me wondering why anyone in the '90s would risk reinforcing such a stereotype. However, a collection such as this also gives a large number of women the opportunity to vent their spleen or open their hearts; in more respects than one, food is like religion.
As the blurb suggests, the key is ambivalence. My favourites among these highquality nibbles are those that explicitly or implicitly convey the mixed feelings women have regarding the act and location of nurturing. The excerpt from Lois Simmie's They Shouldn't Make You Promise That is a strong example. Also notable is "Eating Avocados," by Barbara Sapergia, which contrasts a woman's concern for her anorexic teenage daughter with the daughter's fear of food - and of becoming like her mother. In "Bum Sugar," by Marlene Nourbese Philip, a mother and daughter gently argue about whether food has "meaning," while Bronwen Wallace's poem "Food" parallels human sustenance with revolution.
This anthology proves that many hands (and voices) make light work. Read only on a full stomach!