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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Prose Poem: 280 words
“Triple-Q” Challenge
By Linda Allison

Anatomy of an Inspired Chef


Her approach to food preparation is part and parcel of her quiddity, avant garde expression, free of rote, without boundaries.

Nothing is off the table, so to speak, when she peers into the boggy depths of the fridge, or querls herself about the pantry, scrutinizing her collection of tin and carton, seeking substance for her latest conception. Consider the dishes she creates as homage to the art of found objects.

Recipes, dull, if well-intentioned, crowding cookbooks and websites, serve little purpose other than occasional inspiration, a launching point from which to take a gastronomical deep dive. The result, unrecognizable progeny.

She transfigures the familiar, repurposes the mundane, launches the ubiquitous to a higher power. A gnarled block of desiccated strings, wheat and kansui, a pocket-change worth, blossoms in her hands with the addition of ingredients representing every vowel. A lifeless fried pancake of melted cheese and bland tortilla, the quesadilla, is ever-present in the Southwest where she makes her home, the stuff of the appetizer offering, a staple on the children’s menu. With her imagination it maturates from the ordinary and commonplace to the remarkable and unique. Add a bit of artichoke heart, a smattering of the delicate meat of lobster or quahog, a drizzle of truffle oil, perhaps a suggestion of curry for nuance, a lacing of sweetbreads or of mushrooms, chanterelle, porcini when she can find them.

Querulous and petulant are the entreaties for something pedestrian, familiar. And for all her devotion to the innovative and unconventional, she will relent from time to time. And make a truly bad-ass meatloaf. Hamburger, tomato sauce, ketchup, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Sigh.


—One of 12 Finalists in MacQ’s “Triple-Q” Writing Challenge

Linda Allison
Issue 11, January 2022

is a mother, grandmother, rock collector, Barre addict, hiker, photographer, extremely poor golfer who loves to play, and a recovering banker, retired after 40 years in the financial services industry, now attempting to be what she was always going to be when she grew up: a writer. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies from Rice University and is co-editor of Rice University’s MLS alumni newsletter. Her work has been or will soon be published in Pile Press and Star 82 Review.

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