Khadijah Queen is the author of four books and four chapbooks, including Black Peculiar, winner of the Noemi book award and published by Noemi Press in 2011, and Fearful Beloved, just out from Argos Books. In 2014, she won the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers and The Relationship theater company staged her verse play, Non-Sequitur, in NYC in December 2015, with publication by Litmus Press. Individual poems appear or are forthcoming in Fence, Tin House, Best American Nonrequired Reading and widely elsewhere. She is core faculty for the new low-residency Mile-High MFA program at Regis University in Denver.
Here, she discusses peach cobbler from scratch, the bright light of breakfast, and disdain for wet foods.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I’ve had so many I couldn’t pick just one. My mother is such a good cook that it was hard to get friends to leave our house growing up, especially on holidays when she’d make a big meal (BBQ beef ribs and lamb, greens, baked vegetarian beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc., etc.) and feed whoever came by.
Maybe the time my grandmother came to visit (she lived in Michigan, and we lived in L.A.—I was in high school) and she made peach cobbler from scratch. She had the whole house smelling like cinnamon, nutmeg and peaches. She made it seem like the easiest, simplest thing in the world to make, and it remains the best thing I’ve ever tasted. When my younger sister and I expressed our rapturous gratitude, she just laughed and said, “Aw, that ain’t nothing,” and went about her business. But we could tell she was happy that we were happy.
On snacking while writing:
I tend to not eat while writing at home. If I have a free weekend to write and I am in the zone, I generally only stop to eat when my body refuses to keep going without food, or if my son runs out of things to make for himself and I have to cook. But, if I’m out at a café, I’ll usually have some hot tea and a cookie (toffee or caramel or oatmeal raisin), or if I’m at this particular neighborhood shop I like, hot cider and an apple croissant. If I’m there a long time, I’ll order a chicken Panini or other light sandwich.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
I’m a big fan of breakfast. Early breakfast is beautiful, because the light goes through so many transformations at sunrise—multiple color changes, the light gradually getting brighter, and by the time you’re done eating, the sky is the same clear blue it will be for most of the day.
On her go-to late-night snack:
Applesauce. I still buy those little kid snack cups even though my son is fifteen now. They are healthy enough that you don’t have to feel guilty, and just enough to fill you up so you can go back to sleep. Also, low dirty dish quotient.
On her food quirks:
The main one is that I don’t like wet food. I don’t like when food juice from one item touches another one. If it’s supposed to be wet, like soup, or pasta with sauce, that’s fine. Salad with just enough salad dressing (don’t drown the lettuce!) is fine. But purposeless messy wetness, dry food that gets wet with juice? Blech. Please, do not mix beet juice with mashed potatoes on my plate. Green and wet/slimy: the worst. I rebuke avocado and okra. No soggy canned green bean casserole. No, no, no to the naw. I also hate cole slaw, potato salad and cold pasta that’s wet. Shudder.
On her final meal request:
Right now, I am thinking about Simply Wholesome, a little shop I used to go to a lot when I lived in L.A., and I still go (usually multiple times) every visit. My mom, my sisters, my kid and their kids, best friends and their kids, my dad and stepmom are there. A reggae band is jamming. I’ll eat a fish sandwich with spicy mustard, sprouts, and pineapple, have a bottle of Jamaican cream soda, and for dessert, there absolutely must be some bean pie.