We’re massive fans of award-winning Chicago chef Paul Kahan’s new cookbook, Cheers to the Publican, out now. Beyond the sublime recipes selected from the Publican’s meaty repertoire, however, we couldn’t help noticing the delightful poems at the beginning of each chapter. They’re homages to the ingredients at hand, odes to the glories of harmonious flavors and beautiful works of literature unto themselves. Here are a few of our favorites, but pick up a copy of your own and read them all! Oh, and make the recipes too.   

Reprinted with permission from Cheers To The Publican, Repast And Present

To Bivalves, Mollusks,
and Those Who Shell Before Us

From ocean’s depth

netted, assessed

A bounty aquatic

by watery largess

Octopus, Squid;

Scallop & Clam

[Neptune’s alternative

to Ham or Lamb].

Mussel or Snail

not bigger than a dime

From “Sea-toTable”:



To the Swine, Bovine, and Particularly Fowl

The chicken, the hen,

The pheasant and fowl—

Pluck’d, behead’d

Then disembowel’d.

A bit severe, yes, indeed:

“The ANIMALS giveth

what the CHEF guarantees.”

‘Tis our chose lot


for those too squeamish,


To the Mad Butcher:
Charcuterie and Sausages

Here’s to the MAD BUTCHER:

Who, with Blades that Blur

—through tendon, I’m sure—

Carves the Barnyard’s Fetid Flavor

Into Rare Meats

We Graciously Cook

And Respectfully Savor.