Astoria: middle class and commercial neighborhood in the northwestern corner of New York City. Borough: Queens. Astoria is bounded by the East River. Nearest are three other Queens neighborhoods: Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside. Astoria is patrolled by the New York City Police Department’s 114th Precinct. Astoria was first settled by the Dutch and Germans. Then the Irish came in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Now there are other ethnic settlers: Italians, Jews, Cypriots, Arabs. There is a street there called “Little Egypt.” When I go into Arab shops I think of dates, figs, pistachios; I do not think of walnuts. Oscar at the Waldorf did not put them into his original salad recipe. Someone else did, years and years later, in California. Then grapes followed. Own it, goes a slogan heard often on the lips of the young. He was Swiss. As for epicure: the word appears in all the stubs on his biography. The word comes from the late 14th century, meaning “follower of Epicurus,” after the Athenian philosopher who taught that pleasure is the highest good and virtue is the greatest pleasure. The first lesson, therefore, is apples. Apples and honey, celery slices thinned to the shape of commas. The juice and zest of a lemon. Zest licks the fingers on which the sweet dressing has spilled, as the tray is borne from kitchen to dining plaza in that famous hotel.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.