Carolina Ebeid was born in West New York, NJ and is the author of You Ask Me to Talk About the Interior (Noemi Press). She holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers and is pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Denver. She is a teacher at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop and has won fellowships from CantoMundo, the Stadler Center for Poetry, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Recent work appears in Poetry, PEN America, jubilat and American Poetry Review. She helps edit poetry at The Rumpus.
Here, she talks about a desire for texture, creativity with the late-night snack, and a catered final meal.
On her all-time favorite meal:
One of my favorites would have to be bo ssam, which is Korean-style, slow-cooked pork shoulder served in butter lettuce wraps with rice and kimchi. The NYT published the recipe of Momofuku’s bo ssam some years ago, and Jeffrey Pethybridge (my husband) makes it on festive occasions. The pork shoulder cooks for hours in a brown sugar brine, which then crystalizes on the surface to make a crisp exterior. It’s a revelation. Jeff makes a few side condiments for it, such as one with scallion & ginger, a vinegar based chili sauce, and a sesame soy dressing. If there are leftovers, as there often can be, Jeff will make us green chili pozole, which in my mind is the most comforting food.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
It looks slant because it is still morning, warming up one side of the house, which projects a rectangle of sunlight on the floor that feels good to stand upon. If it must be a sweet breakfast, let it be brioche French toast with mascarpone cheese, maple syrup, and fresh figs; I will froth the milk that has been steeped with spices for the coffee. And then we will live in the forever of that morning.
On snacking while writing:
I take snack breaks, which means getting up from the table or bed, wherever it is I am writing. I think I may eat less when I am writing intensely. Apple slices and cheddar is a good snack, as I try to ignore the salt & vinegar chips in the cupboard. I don’t like to eat in front of my work; maybe I am afraid to offend the good ghosts in attendance.
On her go-to late-night snack:
Jeff and I have gotten very creative with the genre of the midnight snack. I do try not to have too much easy snack food like chips because I can eat a whole bag with a bowl of yogurt for dipping. It all depends on what we have in the fridge. Some of the best late-night snack-attack productions have been: old mango sorbet blended with milk, served on large soup spoons sprinkled with habanero dust & cinnamon; pineapple chunks with fresh lime juice & basil; leftover chicken made into nachos on a large metal tray. [“Groove is in the Heart” begins playing in the mouth.]
On her food quirks:
I like when a meal has a variety of textures, and tend to dislike the opposite. One of my pet peeves is when an espresso isn’t brewed directly into the cup from which I will be drinking it. Chilled cream soups, not my thing. Don’t call it a “Cuban sandwich” when it’s truly a fancy pork sandwich that costs over ten dollars. And then I knock myself off this bourgeois high horse and I am thankful for any food & drink.
On her final meal request:
My death is catered by Chez Panisse, along with Samin Nosrat who is in attendance. Like a wedding celebration, family members and friends from different moments of my life are there eating meals, such as roasted vegetable & white bean salad, and butternut squash curry soup with fried sage on top. There is a blood orange shrimp ceviche, as well as lamb cooked in the fireplace, and squash blossom fritters filled with goat cheese. My friends would be in charge of sweets. Eric would make candies of honey & sugared rose. Diana would make a ginger ice cream with candied lemon rind. Chase brings a pear almond tart, while Fiona brings her pavlova with citrus fruits. I can hear Nicky singing Besse Smith as I leave the party and go deeper into the garden rows. I’m wearing a wreath of flowering herbs and Jeff is with me. We lie down amid the peppers and other nightshades.