Anne K. Yoder is the author of two poetry chapbooks, and her fiction has appeared in Fence, New York Tyrant, and Make Lit, among other publications. She is a staff writer for The Millions and a member of Meekling Press.
Here, she talks about pasta sauce without pasta, oysters on the half shell, and a walk to the cupboard as writing process.
On her all-time favorite meal:
When I was seven, my family took a two-week trip through Quebec with my paternal grandparents, uncles, and my great grandmother, whose family had come to the U.S. from Quebec in the nineteenth century. We went to the town of L’islet to try to find the family name—Gagnon—in the church ledgers. I don’t remember having much success with that but we went to a restaurant afterward, and as I recall the dining room was located in a home, much like a B&B, where an old couple waited on us and cooked for us. They were fluent in French, speaking only a little English. They plied us with multiple courses—the number of which surprised us all. It’s the first time I can remember sitting down to such an extravagant afternoon meal. I also recall the joy of attempting to converse despite the language barrier—my grandmother and great grandmother had great joy attempting to talk with the couple despite speaking little to no French, while my uncle, who was fluent, would interject when he could. I recall a dessert of cake with berries and cream. I was so full I could barely eat any more—though I imagine I did. For me it was my first truly lavish meal, and the conversation and banter and miscommunication all portended possibilities of what a dinner party could be.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
We’re entering the time of the year when the light’s still up during dinner and it’s majestic, especially now during shelter in place, when meals play a much larger role in structuring my day. Dinner is what I work up to. I don’t like too early a dinner–I prefer to dine during the gloaming, the transition from day to eve, where the darkness creeps in and yet the sky still looks so bright against the dark trees and buildings as it turns various hues.
On snacking while writing:
I’m a sucker for salt and crunch. I like to get up and move while I’m thinking and writing, so when indoors, walking to the cupboard for a snack is readily built in to my process. Tortilla chips, popcorn, and crackers, too—the crisper and saltier the better. I’ve got to tell you that Wasa Thins, Rosemary and Salt alone are getting me through the pandemic. They’re perfect accompanied by sparkling water with cherry concentrate added (sometimes with gin). I alone am depleting the stock at our local grocer.
On her go-to late-night snack:
I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’m fond of pasta sauce without the pasta, the more vegetables the better. It’s like a stew, and I always have an unopened jar in the pantry. I like it best with sautéed portabellas added. Spinach and garlic is wonderful too, and always with some shaved Parmesan to top it.
On her food quirks:
Oh! I have perhaps too many quirks to disclose. The above is just one of them. I like gnawing on frozen vegetables. Is this weird? I think of it as not a far throw from chewing ice, or red bean popsicles—which I love and which aren’t odd in the least. I also like to leave a little bit of whatever I’m eating to nibble on later. If there’s a grapefruit juice container with only a few quaffs left, or only a few nibbles of leftover stir fry in the fridge, you can be sure I was the one who left it to come back to.
On her final meal request:
A dozen oysters on the half shell followed by mussels and fries with aioli. Followed by pistachio and chocolate macrons, perhaps a bit of blackberry sorbet. Served with white wine, dry. Perhaps sparkling. I am on my aunt’s deck in Oregon, looking out at the ocean as the fog rolls in. My partner, Dave, my aunt and uncle and their dog, Dulce, are with me, as are a few dear friends.