Kendra DeColo is the author of My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia Books, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House Magazine, Waxwing, Los Angeles Review, Bitch Magazine, VIDA, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2019 Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony, Split this Rock, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is co-host of the podcast RE/VERB: A Third Man Books Production and she lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here, she talks about eating before and after pregnancy, snacking according to mood, and a final seafood picnic on the beach.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I love meals that mark the precipice between beginnings and endings— the last meal I ate before finding out I was pregnant: a decadent lobster macaroni and cheese, more pleasurable because I suspected it was the last time I’d be eating lobster for a while (is that even one of the foods they say you can’t eat?)
Or the first meal at home after giving birth, my body wrecked with hormones after twenty-eight hours of labor in which I sang and broke and vomited up the hastily scrambled eggs I’d cooked between contractions. My husband had run out to buy things at Kroger and came back with fried chicken which I ate right out of the container, stooped over the kitchen counter, and I wept, mourning the vacancy and feeling for the first time our separation— the loneliness of eating only for myself.
And then there is the end of summer meal we’d have in Provincetown when I was a kid— lobster heads saved up in the freezer throughout the season, then cooked for hours in a giant blue speckled pot with tomato sauce, wine, and garlic. It is probably the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted, and represents a time when I ran unaccounted for through streets adorned with couples making out and eating oysters and drag queens scootering past tourists and I was greedy for all of it. I still am.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
The sky is dark, lit and drizzled with the artificial light of venues and liquor store marquees, somewhere right before midnight, stumbling out of the Ryman or the Grotto Bar or the Middle East and grabbing a slice of pizza in a room buzzing with drunk people talking too loudly and forgetting not to light their cigarettes inside. Or the shallow spill of clinical light spilled from a food truck, eating a hot dog which my husband has bought for me to celebrate our first night out together in a million years and it reminds me of every hot dog I’ve eaten in every city I’ve traveled to, walking and spilling ketchup and thrumming with the too muchness of joy and hunger.
On snacking while writing:
Right now I am eating a Veggie Delight sub my husband brought back from the bodega (I guess I really love to be fed by my partner). I usually write at coffee shops while my daughter is at school, so eating is in direct competition with my writing time. I’ll get something bland and easy to eat like a bagel so I can get back to writing with minimal distraction. If I’m writing at home, I might get festive and make scrambled eggs with caramelized onions, something green, and gouda.
On her go-to late-night snack:
It would be cold pizza but an old lover told me that it gives you nightmares, which I’ve found to be true. I try to eat something easy to digest like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so that I’ll be able to sleep well. But there is nothing like eating leftover pad Thai or a heated up bean and cheese taco from the San Antonio Taco Company.
On her food quirks:
I have snacks that I eat according to my moods. Contemplative snack: a tin of smoked oysters with crackers. Happy snack: half of a watermelon cold from the refrigerator. Sad snack: saltines with cream cheese.
On her final meal request:
This question makes me so sad. But I imagine it would be in Provincetown, on a picnic blanket at Herring Cove or Race Point. My family is there of course, and people I have never met who are swimming and walking their dogs and drinking wine and waiting for the sun to set. I don’t really care what we’re eating, but hopefully someone brought good bread, oysters from Wellfleet, mussels cooked just until they open, and cold watermelon. Hopefully someone has an instrument that they half know how to play. My mouth tastes of salt and sand, the sun just beginning to set, and everything shimmers until it fades.