Maya Angelou Dead at 86: A Foodie Farewell

The passing of the poet, playwright, author, and

San Francisco's first African-American female cable car conductor

, Maya Angelou, might not seem like the a topic for foodies, But most food writers were English Majors once and most English Majors were once bookish teenager types who had a favorite hidden corner for angst-filled reading.

Far from the typical reading material foisted on high school students, Maya Angelou's work was grown up, weighty literature. Reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings for the first time made you feel as if you had been let in on something deeply important.

She wrote about about divisive topics like civil rights, racism, rape, teen pregnancy, single motherhood, injustice, and intolerance, yet she managed to do so in a way that filled the reader with empathy, and with hope.

Her literary journey was about finding one's voice in a world that often seems determined to drown you out.

At 86 years old, Angelou certainly earned her rest, but the world will always be a little less for her absence and a little more for her having been with us at all.

So here's our favorite foodie poem by Maya Angelou, a tribute to unapologetic wanting, living fully and out loud, and to a poet who taught us it was OK to do both.

The Health-Food Diner

No sprouted wheat and soya shoots

And Brussels in a cake,

Carrot straw and spinach raw,

(Today, I need a steak).

Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw

Or mushrooms creamed on toast,

Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,

(I'm dreaming of a roast).

Health-food folks around the world

Are thinned by anxious zeal,

They look for help in seafood kelp

(I count on breaded veal).

No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,

Zucchini by the ton,

Uncooked kale and bodies frail

Are sure to make me run


Loins of pork and chicken thighs

And standing rib, so prime,

Pork chops brown and fresh ground round

(I crave them all the time).

Irish stews and boiled corned beef

and hot dogs by the scores,

or any place that saves a space

For smoking carnivores.

You can contact Rebecca Dittmar, Arts & Culture Editor/Food Blog Editor at

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