"How to Eat a Poem" by Eve Merriam + Nectarine & Gingersnap Crumble

There was a moment mid-June where I thought I had missed the season entirely. While all of you were gathering rhubarb and fava beans and writing lovely posts about it, I was doing nothing of the sort. Spring was busy. Good busy. There were trips for both business and pleasure, birthday dinners, and weddings. I was eating just fine, well in fact, but I needed a re-boot. All this added up to a strange and (thankfully) short-lived rut, where I found myself somewhat melancholy that I hadn't yet made it to the farmer's market to take home some of spring's bounty for myself. So I pulled up my bootstraps, tucked a reusable bag under my arm, and strolled the market. I also revisited some poems I had saved to use this summer, and this one set everything right.

How to Eat a Poem

by Eve Merriam

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

All the pomp and circumstance of the past two months had come to a close quite suddenly. The routines returned, and what I wanted more than anything was to just get inspired. It only took about 30 minutes strolling through the Beverly Hills Farmers Market with Andrew, picking up a few items (glossy cherry tomatoes, fragrant arugula, eggs and leeks), for me to feel renewed again.

Sometimes that's all it takes.

Now that I'm ready to embrace the season, I can think of no better ingredient than nectarines to celebrate. In fact, this is one of the first recipes I ever conceptualized when I started Eat This Poem back in January. I knew I'd wait until summer to share it, and that the poem would be perfect alongside. "How to eat a Poem" is about summer and the beautiful mess its fruit makes, but it's also about poetry, expressing quite simply the pleasure that it can be read anywhere, without fuss, without a mess, and just eaten whole. It served as a reminder for me to not only eat as much summer fruit as I can get my hands on, but to also approach poetry with the same childlike hunger.


8 small nectarines, about 1 1/2 pounds
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the topping:
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oats
1 tablespoon almonds
1/2 to 2/3 cup crumbled gingersnaps
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Core and chop the nectarines into roughly 1-inch pieces. Place nectarines in a bowl, and add the sugar, flour and lemon juice. Stir to combine, then pour into an 8-inch round or square baking dish.

To make the topping, combine brown sugar, cane sugar, gingersnaps, oats and almonds in a food processor and pulse to combine. Remove the lid and scatter the pieces of butter on top, then pulse again until large crumbles form. Pour over the nectarines and spread evenly with your hands so that each piece is well covered.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the fruit is tender, bubbly, and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm a la mode.