Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of a memoir and six poetry collections, including Milk and Filth, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. She was awarded an American Book Award for Bring Down the Little Birds and the Juniper Prize for Poetry for her collection Goodbye, Flicker. She also co-edited Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing, an anthology of contemporary Latinx writing (Counterpath Press, 2014). She is the co-director for CantoMundo and the publisher of Noemi Press and Professor of English at Virginia Tech and with Steph Burt, poetry editor of The Nation. Her most recent collection, Cruel Futures, was a volume in the City Lights Spotlight Series in 2018. Her seventh book, Be Recorder, will be published by Graywolf Press in August 2019.
Here, she talks about a love of gnocchi, avoiding Insomnia Cookies, and being a supertaster.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I’ve come to discover that somewhere along my paternal lineage, I’m descendant from Italians, which makes sense because my grandmother loved to cook Italian food, especially gnocchi. When I was little, she would find small Italian delis and buy them fresh, which was very exciting for me. I love gnocchi. It’s my birthday meal and I’ll get it any restaurant that serves it. I don’t often buy the ones at the grocery story because they’re rubbery. Right now, my favorite gnocchi dish is down the street from my house at Ceritano’s. If you have good grocery store gnocchi recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
I also love Peruvian food, particularly a really good ceviche. Ideally in Peru. I don’t often eat beef, but I will if it’s anticucho.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
Brunch is my favorite non-gnocchi meal of the day, so the light is that bright but still cool air that makes food look like it’s in a magazine.
On snacking while writing:
I try not to, but I tend to gravitate towards oranges, bowls of cereal, and peanuts.
On her go-to late-night snack:
Peanuts and bowls of cereal too. Grapes, which I associate with my mom vegging out in front of the TV at night. I try not to eat Insomnia Cookies, but…
On her food quirks:
I’m a supertaster, so there are a lot of foods that I can’t eat and even foods with a mouthfeel I can’t stand. I don’t drink beer or wine or eat things like arugula, mayonnaise, cheesecake (mouthfeel, too much sugar). My food has to be really mild, which comes as a surprise to folks sometimes because I’m Latina. My favorite texture is one that I came up with my friend Mark Wunderlich. We call it cakey-cookie-cookie-cakey. A good blondie is an example of CCCC.
On her final meal request:
Wow, I mean if I’ll never eat again I’ll eat all the things above as well as really sweet and juicy heirloom tomatoes in a nice caprese salad and crunchy foccacia straight out of the oven, and I suppose really good halibut. I’d love the roasted Brussel sprouts my friend Rachel makes and my girlfriend’s curry. I’d need lots of people to help me eat all this food, so I’d want all my friend there. If I get to eat anywhere, I’d like to be on a patio in a big house on the beach. And cupcakes, lots of cupcakes.