Maggie Smith is the author of Weep Up (Tupelo Press, forthcoming 2018); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, winner of the Dorset Prize and the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal in Poetry; and Lamp of the Body, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award; and three prizewinning chapbooks. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Paris Review, Guernica, Plume, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. In 2016 her poem “Good Bones” went viral internationally and has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. A 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Smith has also received grants from the Ohio Arts Council, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives in Bexley, Ohio, and works as a freelance writer and editor.
Here, she talks about the evolution of her favorite meals, winter breakfast through the sunrise, and a mish-mash of final foods.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I’ve had a lot of different “favorite meals” in my life. As a kid it was my mother’s chicken casserole, which had a can of cream of mushroom soup in it and crushed up Ritz crackers on top. It was 80s Midwestern fabulous.
As a young adult it was the tournedos of beef at Lindey’s, an upscale restaurant in German Village, a historic neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. My husband and I would go there for special occasions, including the night before my second child was born. I was so nervous about being hungry after my caesarian section that I ate half my meal—steak, potatoes, asparagus—then went home, set an alarm for 2:00 am, and got up to eat the rest. The anesthesiologist was not pleased.
Now I’m a vegetarian, so I’ve had to make new traditions and find new favorites. One is herb-crusted tofu and roasted Brussels sprouts, made at home. Another is the jackfruit cake (tastes a lot like a crabcake) on a bed of lentils at Strongwater in Columbus. And brunch at Starliner Diner in Hilliard, Ohio, is always a hit: chilaquiles, vegetarian breakfast burrito, fried plantains, the works.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
Weekend breakfasts are probably my favorite, and because we have young kids, we’re up early. In the winter this means watching the sunrise through the east-facing French doors in our dining room. My young son loves to ooh and ah at the pink, purple, peach, and gold in the sky.
On snacking while writing:
I snack while doing just about anything. Some of my go-to options: Havarti and crackers, pretzels or carrot sticks dipped in tahini, dark-chocolate-covered almonds.
On her go-to late-night snack:
My favorite late-night snack is a mug of cereal and almond milk. And a beer. It works.
On her food quirks:
When I ate meat, I was very picky about what kinds and cuts of meat I would eat. I think I was psychologically uncomfortable with eating animals, and so avoiding anything that reminded me of the body—bones and fat, for example—I was able to “forget” what I was eating. I’m happy not to have those issues any longer.
On her final meal request:
I don’t think my favorite foods would work well together, but I would love to have them all as a last meal: a sampling of Indian food (vegetable korma, dal makhani, paneer, naan, pakoras), roasted Brussels sprouts, my husband’s homemade crepes, chocolate cake, and a porter or a stout to drink. I’d be at home, sitting around the table with my family.