Gabrielle Grace Hogan is a poet from St. Louis, Missouri. Her work has been published by Sonora Review, Arcturus, Lavender Review, Ghost City Review, and others. In 2017, she won the Academy of American Poets Prize for her undergraduate institution, Bradley University, with her poem “pools.” She is a poetry reader for BOAAT, associate editor for Bat City Review, and a first-year poet in the New Writers Project MFA program at the University of Texas at Austin. She can be found on Twitter @gabrielleghogan, Instagram @gabriellegracehogan, and in the worst seats at a Harry Styles concert having the best time.
Here, she talks about late-night drive-thru, the absolute power of Provel, and the many different last meals she’d indulge in.
On her all-time favorite meal:
It’s hard to pick one favorite meal or occasion of a meal, because the beautiful thing about food and sharing food is how every dinner is a chance for new beginnings, of taste of relationships or of conversations. I know there are a number of restaurants that are dear to me for both the delicious food and the consistent visits by me and my loved ones to these restaurants. For example, Symbowls (formerly known as Hot Pots, which we still refer to it as) is a soup place in the suburbs of St. Louis that my friends and I frequent—I typically order a miso-yaki broth with chicken, Udon noodles, and a smattering of veggies. Mom’s Deli is a delicious, little sandwich shop on Jamieson—the shop is a relatively small room, with the counter on one side and shelves of drinks, snacks, and even some home goods on the other. It would be so easy to do all your shopping here, if your shopping list is relatively modest. I typically get the roast beef and cheddar sandwich slathered in gravy and heated to just the right temperature. Gioia’s Deli on the Hill is amazing as well, and has the best meatball sub you will ever eat, probably due to the garlic bread and Provel cheese (the latter of which I will gush about later). I may currently be living in Austin, Texas, but no food scene will compare to St. Louis’ for me. It’s underrated and extremely vibrant.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
I’ve never thought about this before, and yet I immediately have an answer to this question! My favorite kinds of meals are the ones had spontaneously late at night with friends—when you’re hanging out late into the night, maybe even with the intent to spend the night over, and you’ve already abandoned your cute outfits for the sloppiest, most humbling dress that you would typically only wear inside your home. I’ve had multiple instances, particularly with my old roommates back in Peoria, Illinois, where we would be up late talking and someone (okay, usually always me) would suggest Dunkin’ Donuts or Bob Evans or Perkins, or some other comforting pile of grease, and off we would drive into the cold, sometimes snowy night. There’s something very special to me about those late night food runs—something as simple as a swipe through the McDonald’s drive-thru is nostalgic when spent with the right people at the most vulnerable time of night.
On snacking while writing:
At risk of sounding like I’m trying to sound like a “real writer,” when I’m in a deep enough zone for writing I tend to allow no distractions. I also typically don’t keep snacks around in general, mostly because I have a weird sense of guilt (blame the Catholic upbringing) attached to buying things I “don’t need,” and for some reason my brain rationalizes snacks as a part of that. If I have snack food in my apartment it is a rare and beautiful sight, and doesn’t last long.
On her go-to late-night snack:
I don’t know how accurate it would be to say this is my late-night snack go-to, but I will use this space to wax poetic on something I can and will never get enough of, and that’s Provel cheese. For those who haven’t heard the good word, Provel is a cheese local to St. Louis, and is the combination of Swiss, cheddar, and provolone cheeses. In my cheese journey, it’s been the richest and most buttery cheese I’ve eaten, and I cannot praise it highly enough for how well it goes with everything—grilled cheese, mac ‘n’ cheese, pasta, pizza especially as any St. Louisan would tell you. My family and I buy it in giant loaves and I love to shave off ends of it and just eat it plain as a midnight, morning, or midday snack. It’s a cheese that has a hometown attachment for me, in addition to just being the gooiest and most delicious cheese in general. A lot of people will knock St. Louis-style pizza, but I challenge them to knock the cheese on its own.
On her food quirks:
I can eat a lot and very quickly. I’ve been teased by friends about it before, how I eat like I’ll never see food again, but I don’t know that I won’t! Life is fleeting, friends. Plus, food is meant to be enjoyed; if I finish a meatball sub in 4 minutes flat, that’s my business.
On her final meal request:
What I would eat for my last meal isn’t an easy question to answer, because every empty stomach craves something different. Right now, I’m rationalizing that if I could just have some chicken fried rice, crab Rangoon, and gyoza from Thanh Linh, the Vietnamese restaurant next to my undergrad campus in Peoria, I could die happy. On another day, though, it’d be an order of trashed wings from Garvey’s, the bar near the house I grew up in—nothing else but a big wilted styrofoam box full of wings. I’m using this answer as a cop-out to talk about multiple foods I love, if you couldn’t tell. Whatever my last meal would be, though, I’d likely have to follow it with dessert from Donut Drive-In, a small little shack of a donut shop off Chippewa in St. Louis city. The donuts have to be gotten late Saturday night, as they’re preparing them fresh for Sunday services the next morning. A few chocolate cake donuts and a monster of an apple fritter at 11 PM, eaten in the backseat of a car filled with everyone I love (it’d need to be a pretty big car) as the familiar downtown sights pass by on the way to the suburbs. That’s a good way to end.