Friday, June 21, 2013

A Bite Of Porridge By Rancher Steve Melton, Dade City, Florida

If you ever get the chance to hear Steve Melton’s poetry or prose consider yourself privileged. But if you ever get to taste one of his poems consider yourself lucky.

Steve Melton's farm-to-table rye and corn grits porridge,
Dade City, Fla.
 He gave me a copy of his poem, “A Bite Of Porridge,” over a year ago. It described, in elegant words, the experience of eating his farm-to-table meal. The poem started with “As the bowl approaches, one is taken by the array of colors of the porridge.”

The second stanza really wets the appetite: “The eye catches a mixture of white rice and brown cracked, rye with the yellow of the corn and sprinkled with sesame and flax, topped with an undulating swirl of butter and brown sugar.”

Rancher Steve Melton standing in his rye seed grain field,
Dade City, Fla.
Last month, I was lucky when I went to visit The Meltons’ ranch in Central Florida. They gave me a bag of this porridge without the sesame seeds. One ingredient, the rye, was of particular importance. As Steve Melton put it, “I grow it, dry it, clean it, put it in a grist mill, and eat it. You can’t get more farm-to-table than that.”

The bag came with instructions and a 20 or so minute cook time. It was hard to wait that long but worth it. I put it in a bowl, topped it with a generous spoon of brown sugar, and swirled in the butter as best I could to meet the image planted in my head from the poem. And then I ate.

It was chewy, crunchy, creamy, sweet, salty, and earthy. As Melton put it in his poem, “The chewiness of the jasmine rice is followed by a gentle crunch of the stone ground cracked rye and yellow corn grits.”

It was very filling and almost impossible to finish. And it had a lovely side effect—hours later I was still hunger-free.

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