My co-blogger Marie Sweeney writes about making slumgullion at home. The first time I read that word I knew I had to work it in to a poem. Turns out the dish she makes (and a lot of us make) has a bunch of names. I only knew it as macaroni ‘n’ hamburg when my mother made it at home. The lockdown put an emphasis on home cooking that may outlast “the opening,” who knows? Many of us have had a lot more time to tinker in the kitchen. This short piece is dedicated to Marie, whose shopping and cooking and eating posts on Facebook have been a comfort food of reading for her fans.–PM

Slumgullion, goulash, American chop suey, Johnny Marzetti, macaroni ‘n’ hamburg (web photo courtesy of clivesdrive)



In the time of the virus,

Every other Wednesday

Marie concocts pasta stew

With ground beef, elbows,

Chopped tomatoes, onions,

Green peppers, crushed garlic,

And a jar of branded red sauce,

Filling a deep skillet to the brim.

This favorite will last the week,

Better reheated on the stove

Or given a second life topped

With sliced cheese in the oven.

We’ve all been home-cooking

In the long months of lockdown,

Whipping up crowd-pleasers by heart

And re-thumbing Julia’s recipes,

Watching Jacques Pépin’s quick

Casual videos on the laptop, lifting

Tips from the Globe food writers.

Our sharp knives get a workout.

We don’t count the dirty pans.

No need to rush. This dish

Could use a little hot sauce, too.


—Paul Marion

4 Responses to ‘Slumgullion’

  1. Marie Sweeney says:

    This was a gift this morning from my friend and colleague, writer, thinker and poet Paul Marion…. my deepest thanks.

  2. David Daniel says:

    Cook & Poet are a lot alike, as Paul Marion makes plain. Gather the ingredients, toss ’em together in the right measure, with an experienced eye, allow time for cooking, and presto! Something tasty results. P.S. — using Chef Pepin’s special technique, too, can help: a glass of wine! Bon appetit.

  3. Nancye Tuttle says:

    Love this! A great Paul Marion poem about Marie Sweeney and her pandemic cooking prowess! Definitely a treat, like Marie’s Slumgullion.