Elena Georgiou is the author of the newly-released book of short stories, The Immigrant’s Refrigerator. She is also the author of two poetry collections, Rhapsody of the Naked Immigrants and mercy mercy me, which won a Lambda Literary Award for poetry. She has also won an Astraea Emerging Writers Award, a New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship, and was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Goddard College in Vermont and Washington. Elena is originally from London, England, where she spent the first twenty-seven years of her life. Since then, she has lived in the U.S. — first in New York, now in Vermont.
Here, she talks about making one’s own Valentine’s Day, eating al fresco, and sushi as final meal.
On her all-time favorite meal:
It was late January in New York in the early 2004. It had already been snowing, and it was continuing to snow, so the city had a snow-globe feel to it. My partner and I decided that we wanted to wrap up and take a long walk in it. We walked to Prospect Park [in] Brooklyn, then we made giant circles around the park’s perimeter, holding hands, catching giant flakes on our tongues. When our noses couldn’t take it any more, we walked out of the park and found a small Thai restaurant, tucked away up a flight of stairs, and ordered soup. I can’t remember the type of the soup—there was coconut milk, there was red curry. I just [remember] that it was the best-tasting soup in the world. It was all so perfect that we named this walk and this meal our Valentine’s Day. And since that time, we’ve always celebrated Valentine’s Day whenever it feels like it, rather than on February 14. Which has the added bonus of never making it difficult to find a table wherever it is we’d like to eat.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
Bright sun, shining on my face, forearms, and hands. After a life of city living, I now live in a rural place—a cottage, just feet away from a river tributary. When I moved in, one of the first things I bought was a tag-sale picnic table. Because I work from home, I sit outside every lunchtime that the weather permits. Lunch outside on a workday is a salad (often with beets from my garden and local goat cheese). Al fresco dining is one of the ongoing joys of my life: fresh figs or rosewater ice cream on a Cypriot beach; handpies or kiofte on the park grounds of a stately home just outside of London; bread and cheese beside a covered bridge in Vermont; and falafels or bialys from a vendor on a New York sidewalk.
On snacking while writing:
I write in the early morning, so I don’t really snack. But I like to write in public places, often surrounded by food. My latest writing place is a mini-mart that is part of a gas station/convenience store/farmstand/nursery. Close to the customer seating area is a cider donut station. I smell them, but I don’t buy them. (Just one slip and it would all be over.) But I cannot resist the Green Mountain Coffee. About halfway through my writing time, I nip out to the car where I have a shake (mango, spinach) and I sit in the passenger seat to drink it. After that, I go back inside the mini-mart, where I’ve left my computer to hold my space and write for another hour.
On her go-to late-night snack:
I don’t do it. But if I did, it would probably be green tea ice cream. Or mochi.
On her food quirks:
The skin that forms after boiled milk has cooled down sets my teeth on edge. So I won’t drink hot chocolate if it has skin on top of it, and I definitely won’t eat custard if it has formed a similar skin.
On her final meal request:
For reasons I cannot explain, I have thought about this a lot. If I should be allowed to die at an old age, and if I should have all my senses intact, and if my constitution can still handle whatever my culinary imagination desires, then I could go one of two ways: One: warm goat cheese and roasted beet salad, salmon grilled between cedar planks, pureed potatoes, roasted cauliflower, steamed snow peas, followed by chocolate mousse and (not or) tiramisu. Or Two: tuna tartare, sake sushi, maguro sushi, hamachi sushi, saba sushi, unagi sushi, ikura sushi, and mochi ice cream. Truly, it would likely be latter—the Japanese meal—because I would want to spend this last meal with my beloved, and when we’re together there is no food better than sushi.