The Vinegar Girl

A Poem about Ending Hunger and Creating Happiness

In the wee morning hours, I saw a peculiar site,
A sour frowning girl coming out of the night.
She pulled her belongings on a blue vinyl sled
while a vinegar scowl covered her face and her head.

IMG_0942She wore a big poncho from her neck to her knees
that matched the blue kerchief she used when she sneezed.
When she growled down the street, all the neighbors were stirring
and her vinegar snarls made the kittens stop purring.

I opened my door and peeked my head out
when her big poncho flapped and she started to shout.
“I’m a vinegar girl from a vinegar place
but maybe you know that from my vinegar face!”

I went to my kitchen in a wee quick hurry
and began chopping peppers for a warm winter curry.
Then one second later, I flew back out the door
and I yelled to that girl, “Don’t be such a bore!”

“Take off your big poncho and relax for a bit.
I’ve made a hot stew.  You should eat some of it.”
She turned with a whirl and a vinegar glare
and I felt a bit frightened when she gave me that stare.

But she pulled her sled over and marched down the hall.
Then after four lightening quick minutes, she had eaten it all.
She growled loudly again – it was then I discovered
The growl was the tummy that her poncho did cover.

I whirled through the kitchen making warm toast with jam
Noodles with butter and roasted red yams
She dove into the dish with her hands and her face
And when she was finished, there was not a crumb in the place

She wiped her mouth clean with her big poncho sleeve
and scowled ‘round my kitchen, fixin’ to leave.
Then she stopped, breathed deeply and thought for a while
when her vinegar sneer turned into a smile…

She said, “I’m a vinegar girl from a vinegar place.
For years I’ve been wearing this vinegar face.
But with a belly of curry, I’ll wear it no longer.

Who would have known, it was nothing but hunger?”
I sighed and I smiled, and I recalled an old song,
The path from the belly to the heart is not very long.

Tunisian Vegetable Stew
Adapted from Lauren
Serves: 6

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced thinly sliced
  • 4-5 carrots, chopped
  • 2 turnips, chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Handful of chopped green beans
  • 1 fennel bulb sliced thin and chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 16-oz can chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked)
  • juice of ½ lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage, turnips and carrot. Add the salt and saute until the cabbage is cooked down, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spices, tomatoes, green beans and  chickpeas. Add the fennel. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, and taste and adjust seasoning.

 It’s clean out the fridge Saturday and I was inspired by the Gourmet Veggie Mama, Lauren. After the chopping, this throws together fast and is a tasty treat for lunch or to have in the fridge for a meal later in the week.

What meal will you be poetic about this week?

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  1. I love this, Tammy!
    It’s hard to be happy when we’re hungry.

    And the stew sounds yummy too!

    • Clean out the fridge Saturdays (or Fridays) are the best! We made homemade egg rolls last night to use up some veggies that were beginning to outwear their welcome.

      • I know, right? I have fun with it although other members of my house would prefer it all just went away.

    • Thanks Nancy. This was fun to write.

  2. What a moving piece, is it yours?

  3. Great poem, Tammy. It’s terrible to think of how many are going hungry especially in ‘affluent’ nations xx

  4. You might be interested in this:

    For each circle of 5 friends on FB, Panera will donate a bowl of soup to Feeding America®.

  5. Hidden talents Tammy! I love it, thank you!

  6. WOW! Very powerful! Great post!

    • Thanks nats1mom. Loved your Target rant too. It’s important that we use our voices to discuss these concerns.

  7. Wow, I love a poem to go with a recipe .. .and one about feeding the hungry is just so good! You can do anything, Tammy! Thank you!

    • This poem has been rattling around in my head for months and months. It feels so good to put it on paper.

  8. I have to say I really enjoy the illustration!

  9. Confirmed: You are my fav poet. And I totally dig the sketch.
    By the way do you know that I am much like your vinegar girl? I’m the worst when I am hungry. I get frigidity, I snap, I wear a scowl like your girl and I am tantrum personified. Once fed, this girl is your slave.

  10. Kevin

     /  April 27, 2013

    Sally, Vickie and I just spent the afternoon in Portland. We went to Benessere, a boutique specializing in olive oil and …. vinegar. Vinegar is WONDERFUL!

    • We went to one of those vinegar boutiques also. I brought home a chocolate balsamic that is really good. I need to remember to use it. Happy Birthday brother!

  11. What’s beautiful poem and a wonderful sentiment Tammy 🙂

  12. Tammy,
    Lovely poem and sketch of my daughter, who is just like that when she needs to be fed. Is she ever truly hungry? Nope, she has not experienced true hunger. But she’s still a vinegar girl and happy after eating.
    This stew sounds tasty, too–Lauren has great recipes!
    Thank you.

  13. Smiling delighted at the Vinegar Girl! What a fun poem. And the stew looks marvelous. Making me hungry right now.

  14. Great poem! Thank you!

  15. Lisa H

     /  April 28, 2013

    I love your poem! Too funny that your poem is about vinegar, as I just made some wonderful baked beans made with vinegar and coffee.

  16. Oh, I just love this! And I loved it even before I realized you had used my recipe. 😉

  17. Such a good poem, and the focus is so important. The amount of waste in America causes me heartache when I consider the number of people struggling with real hunger. I love your stew recipe, and really applaud your effort to raise consciousness. ox Debra

    • It’s true Debra. I believe that if we really got conscious about food waste and nutrition, then we could beat hunger back. And I also believe we could begin to do it with locally grown foods.

  18. Sally

     /  April 28, 2013

    The poem and the picture just wonderful and a strong reminder. Vinegar not always sour. It can be sweet and wonderful, like life lessons learned over time. Thanks for keeping us mindful of the need of others!

    • Hunger is a hard lesson for anyone but it breaks my heart that there are children who experience it and even worse that we then feed them with cheap calories that affect their longterm health. I am forever amazed by the range of vinegar flavors.

  19. Sally

     /  April 29, 2013

    Rereading this wonderful poem takes me to a soup kitchen I volunteer at.
    It is so true when fed and full, the smiles appear, the frown disappears
    And, curry so good for healing and keeping healthy! Your recipe has all the right ingredients!

    • This curry is easy and fast and got very good reviews from 6 of 7 who were around the table.

  20. Linda

     /  April 29, 2013

    Wow, Tammy – what a beautiful and powerful poem!

  21. I love the way you’ve honored the art of poetry all month long.

    • It’s been fun and I’m a bit sad that it’s passed. I still had a couple more to share! Oh well, something in the coffers for next year. Your trip is wonderful!

  22. Fantastic, Tammy, I just love The Vinegar Girl. Lots to think about here!

  23. You are so creative. What a blast it was to read this. You give me giggles with your imagery!

  24. So cute. Plus great use of the word “vinegar”. That would make a great song, too!

    • Thanks. I began this as a creative writing exercise with made-up words. Then I had to find a word that would fit the poem. Vinegar seemed the most appropriate.

  25. Love, love, love, love this. So sweet and true, that sometimes the warmth of home and hearth can take away all the ills we may face. And, the drawing at the top is precious. I am finally catching up from an unplanned hiatus and am looking forward to seeing what you have been up to! I also nominated you for a blog award/meme that has been making the rounds – if you have the time/inclination, I’d love to see what you have to say! Thanks for making me smile with the poem, and hungry with the stew 🙂

  26. The poem ❤

    And I'm certainly bookmarking the recipe to cook it for the hubby and myself soon! This is exactly what we like to eat! 😀

  27. Cute! When my kids were little, I used to say I was going to write a kids book called “The Little Girl Who Told Sad Stories.” In the end she’d get more cheerful by telling happier stories.

  28. Love it. More because it is followed by a yummy treat. Thanks.

  29. Fab poem !!! More please !

  30. Tammy, I love your poem: lovely it is! 🙂 I love the drawing too 🙂 This dish sings to me,…yummmm!

  31. Aw! That last line 🙂


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