Hila Ratzabi was selected by Adrienne Rich as a recipient of a National Writers Union Poetry Prize and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of the chapbook The Apparatus of Visible Things (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry is published in Narrative, Alaska Quarterly Review, Drunken Boat, Linebreak, The Nervous Breakdown, and others. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is the editor-in-chief of Storyscape and lives in Philadelphia where she founded the Red Sofa Salon & Poetry Workshop.
Here, she talks perfectly cubed gnocchi, managing to eat while juggling a newborn, and “balanced” meals.
On her all-time favorite meal:
My all-time favorite meal is the gnocchi at a restaurant that no longer exists in my hometown of Queens, New York. My family and I used to go to Villa Istriana regularly when I was a kid, and that’s where I was introduced to the magic of really good Italian food.
The manager of the restaurant, Albino, was the sweetest man who always remembered us when we came to eat. (A different Italian restaurant eventually took the spot of Villa Istriana, but it was never as good.) The gnocchi was made in perfect cubes and had just the right balance of softness and firmness. To this day, I’m an unabashed pasta lover. I don’t know why everyone collectively decided to hate on carbs one day. Bring them on!
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
My favorite meal of the day is anything I can put in my mouth while my newborn son is sleeping or quietly sitting. The light looks perfect and ravenous through the kitchen window.
On snacking while writing:
I don’t snack while writing because I write very quickly and infrequently. When I get in the zone, which is rare, I can’t think about food, let alone anything else but the words rolling out onto the page.
On her go-to late-night snack:
Again, due to the wonders and constraints of having a baby in the house, I will eat literally anything I can find in the fridge. Let’s hope there are leftovers or some frozen Trader Joe’s meals to be found.
On her food quirks:
I like to eat each item on the plate in even portions (i.e., a bite of chicken, a bite of vegetable, a bite of grain). I assume it’s because I’m a Libra and I need balance in my universe.
On her final meal request:
Trying to imagine my last meal is terrifying. I’ll stick with my next meal. Who’s cooking?