Lindsay Garbutt is the associate editor of Poetry and cohosts the Poetry Magazine Podcast with Don Share and Christina Pugh. Her writing is forthcoming in As Seen: Exhibitions That Made Architecture and Design History (Yale University Press, 2017).
Here, she talks about the importance of good company over good food, mac and cheese from the box, and a summertime potluck as final meal.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I thought about this question for a while and I really can’t pick an all-time favorite. What comes to mind are the times when the social activity of cooking together is more important than whatever we’re making. Examples: when my extended family gets together, and it’s an improvised choreography of who gets which part of the oven when, and inevitably something briefly catches on fire or one of the dogs eats something off the table, and we’re all laughing about whatever fiasco happened this time; or the pleasant routine of baking my mom’s amazing chocolate chip cookies with her in the same way we have for 20+ years; or making low-key weeknight dinners with my partner, where it’s generally just pasta and veggies and something to snack on while we cook, but it tastes like the most delicious thing.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
I love the late summer light at dinnertime. The air takes on an orangey-golden glow and the clouds get dressed up in yellow and pink as the sun sets. From our kitchen table I can see the brick building across the street, which turns a lovely shade of reddish brown in the light, and can hear the cicadas whirring.
On snacking while writing:
I love to snack but can’t snack while writing. I often get wrapped up in it and forget to eat entirely.
On her go-to late-night snack:
Annie’s white cheddar mac and cheese from the box. I make it with almond milk (partially from necessity, I can’t have dairy anymore), which gives it a slightly nutty flavor, and crack lots of black pepper over it.
On her food quirks:
When my brother was young he would often eat at the kitchen table with one leg bent at the knee so his foot was on the seat of the chair; he’d have to lean his chest against his knee to get close enough to eat. This exasperated our mom. She would constantly tell him to put his leg down, and he would, but then it would immediately pop up again without him realizing it. As a kid, I never understood why he did this, but I now find myself feeling oddly comfortable in that position and do it at home sometimes without realizing it (sorry, Mom!).
On her final meal request:
Since it’s August right now, I’m in a summer frame of mind. I’d want it to be outdoor potluck style, where everyone brings their favorite dish. There would have to be a whole bunch of different noodles (cacio e pepe, chilled peanut noodles, pad Thai, you name it), roasted vegetables (kale, asparagus, etc), lots of watermelon and peaches, wine and gin & tonics, pie and donuts. My family, Matthew, and my friends are all there, eating at one long table, drinking and laughing into a long summer night.