Following on from their success at the London Book Fair, Latvian Literature organised a 3-day poetry festival in Edinburgh last month.  A number of poets and their translators came up to a sunny, if somewhat chilly, Edinburgh for recitals at the Scottish Poetry Library.  Latvian chef, Raivo Behmanis, created a 7-course menu to accompany the poems for an International Simmer at the Edinburgh Food Studio.

This is what happened when Latvia met Scotland.

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WARNING: I’m not vegetarian, so those of vegetarian/vegan persuasion may wish to look away now.

The pamphlet at the place-setting contained the English translations of the poems that were read before each course.  The poets read their work in Latvian, the translators the English version. The corresponding dish with a matched wine was then served.

Course 1. Translated by William Letford

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Course 2. Translated by Kathrine Sowerby

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Course 3. Translated by William Letford

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There’s something very honest about that piece.  It was my favourite of the night.

Courses 4-7  Something happened at this point.  Like the (very) amateur photographer forgetting to adjust white balance settings.  The photos hereafter are pretty awful and not at all appetising.  Which is a shame because you had to see course 5 – Hay, Black Garlic and Nettle to believe it.  The scoop of black garlic ice-cream (delicious actually) on top of a nettle dust strewn panna cotta was nicknamed The Slug on The Grass!   It did look like that to be honest, purposely so I think, given that the chef works at a restaurant renowned for its contemporary take on forest cuisine.

He’s a little shy too.  In the curtain call of poets, translators, chefs, and servers, that’s his hand holding the pamphlet.  The waiter standing in front of him now looks to have three arms. I could photoshop it out, but I do like the accidental trompe d’oeil.

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My thanks to all involved, particularly to Scottish poet Ryan Van Winkle (far left), who had the original idea and to Inga, the project manager at Latvian Literature, for turning the idea into reality.  It was a truly delicious evening.

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