The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

Around the World in Eighty Meals

In Italy I ate plump ravioli in thick tomato sauce
and fig ice cream fresh from the churn.

In Greece I ate a hot slab of moussaka
and honeyed baklava that stuck to my teeth.

In Cape Town I ate chewy biltong and oven-baked bobotie
and creamy avocado mashed on toast.

In Koblenz I ate liver dumplings floating on a sea
of chicken soup, pulled by onion and carrot tugboats.

In Vietnam I ate Pho, with fiery fish sauce and noodles
that snaked round the bowl, slippery and hot.

In France I ate unwilling snails in garlic and parsley
yanking them out of the safety of their shells with a pin.

In India I ate curried fish with cumin, cardamom and turmeric
and yellow dahl with fragrant grains of steaming rice.

In Spain I ate salty anchovies, fried tortilla
and tasty titbits on tiny plates.

In Tobago I ate curried crab with dumplings
washed down with coconut milk or cold rum punch.

In Israel I ate fried falafel in pockets of pitta bread
and bagels bulging with cream cheese and lax.

Where ever I went I picked up a spoon,
tried out chopsticks, used a knife and fork, or even just my hands,

from Mauritius to Martinique
from Stockholm to San Francisco
from Copenhagen to Crete.

In London, Liverpool or Leeds
I can now eat all of these things.

But also, fish and chips and bacon and eggs
and apple crumble and sticky toffee pud
and roast beef and sausage and mash
and scones and crumpets with butter for my tea.

In London, I put the whole world on my plate
and, hungry for the taste of a place,
I gobble it up.

About the Writer

Barbara Bleiman

Barbara is an ex-English teacher and writer of adult and YA fiction, with two novels published and a recent collection of short stories for adults, Kremlinology of Kisses. Barbara has an anthology of short stories for secondary school students coming out in the autumn via the English and Media Centre where she works.