Analicia Sotelo is the author of Virgin, the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, selected by Ross Gay, published by Milkweed Editions in February 2018. She is also the author of the chapbook Nonstop Godhead, selected by Rigoberto González for the 2016 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship 30 and Under and her poem “I’m Trying to Write a Poem About a Virgin and It’s Awful” was selected for Best New Poets 2015 by Tracy K. Smith. Her poems have also appeared in the New Yorker, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Iowa Review, and The Antioch Review. She is the 2016 DISQUIET International Literary Prize winner in poetry and is the recipient of scholarships from the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Image Text Ithaca Symposium. She holds a BA in English literature from Trinity University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston.
Here, she talks about choosing sweet over salty, final meals with Mindy Kaling and Meryl Streep, and how the best meals are made at home.
On her all-time favorite meal:
Mole enchiladas, fideo, tacos with egg and chorizo, all made at home, by the people who raised me. No restaurant compares to what’s made at home, whatever the ingredients are, and even when I try to make it, it doesn’t land quite right, not yet. There’s something about the stirring of things that makes it good, the stirring and the deep set cooking, the tomato, onion, and comino of most of the dishes, the opportunity to sit down with my family and find out what’s going on with them.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
Coffee first, made in the dark. Then filtered light from the window, a very late breakfast. Usually eggs. Plants are waking up, too. Music is on, and the choice depends on my mood. The light looks like the start of something. First draft, if you can tend to it right.
On snacking while writing:
I drink hot tea or coffee when I’m writing, but sometimes I do take breaks and eat a snack. It has to be something small, something that won’t take up a lot of space in my mind and trick it into thinking I’m actually eating a meal and relaxing. The work is not about leisure, though some leisure time is necessary to the work.
On her go-to late-night snack:
If I’m still hungry at the end of the day, it means I’ve had a crazy week and my fridge probably isn’t stocked with a lot of options. If I’m lucky, I have some kind of carb on hand, like toast, or some kind of protein, like turkey or a perfectly boiled egg or something. This may sound boring, and it is! What I wish I had on hand as a late-night snack is a delicious leftover pasta, maybe with pesto, and some freshly grated parmesan.
On her food quirks:
Eating and I have a very interesting relationship. I’m not a picky eater, but I have some favorite things: citrus; bitter greens; a very soft, light cake of any kind, maybe with ginger and cinnamon. I love bread, but try to avoid it, because it is irresistible. I also really love smoked salmon. I guess the quirkiest part about my eating habits is that I’ll always choose sweet over salty, bitter over bland. I like the high of sweets and the complexity of something bitter.
On her final meal request:
I feel oddly private about this question, so I will instead give my fantasy meal request. Meryl Streep and I are somewhere in Greece, after having already visited Granada. I don’t know what meal we are having yet, but I can guarantee you I’ll research it after writing this scenario down, and I can guarantee you Meryl will have made it, and I will ask her all about her life, and then I will walk seaside by myself with a glass of water.
My other fantasy meal is dinner with Mindy Kaling, but we go out to a restaurant for that one, and she tells me all the details of her dating life, and we wear matching, bright-colored outfits, and people want to be us.