Ruben Quesada (PhD, MFA) is a poet and editor. His writing and media have been featured at The Art Institute of Chicago, The Poetry Foundation, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, The American Poetry Review, Southern Humanities Review and elsewhere. Find him @rubenquesada on Twitter.
Here, he talks In-N-Out, not snacking, and the particulars of fish.
On his all-time favorite meal:
A cheeseburger, of course. I have always loved a good burger even when I was a vegetarian; a veggie cheeseburger always hit the spot. In Los Angeles, I used to eat them at In-N-Out Burger, which is a West Coast institution. Here in Chicago the closest thing I’ve found is a cheeseburger at Small Cheval. I couldn’t even tell you where I first had one or who prepared it, but my earliest memories as a child and eating one would be from the school cafeteria when I was a student in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Let me just say that my Yelp review of those burgers wouldn’t draw any Likes. Small Cheval is savory, fresh, and it’s even better with fries and a Baileys vanilla shake.
There was a time when I tried to gain mass. I’ve always been a slender person. I was consuming an equal number of grams of protein in grams a day to my own weight because I wanted to bulk up. This must have been in the summer of 2004. I ate many cheeseburgers at one time on any given day that summer.
On his favorite meal of the day:
It must be breakfast because I can eat it at any time of the day and it feels right. I never feel too heavy. I’m writing this in the late evening and I’m craving a bowl of cereal right now. I usually alternate what I have for breakfast, but most of the time it consists of a bowl of cereal, a short glass of orange juice, and a tall glass of water. I’m particular about my cereal. It must be high in fiber, low to zero sugar, and there must be fruit in it—fresh strawberries, blueberries, or a banana. When I have more time for breakfast, I’ll make toast and eggs. I can make an egg any way you like it, sunny side up is my favorite.
On snacking while writing:
When I’m writing it varies from day to day because of my work schedule. So, for instance as I write this it is early in the morning and I’m having coffee and toast. Some might call that a light breakfast, some might say it’s a snack, idk. If I do snack I like to have a small cup of lightly salted peanuts, or some pita chips and hummus. I don’t often snack. I never did as a child and it has followed me through adulthood. Though, if there’s an abundance of cheese or fruit on a plate, I’m all over it.
On late-night snacks:
I don’t like late-night snacking. In theory, it sounds like it could be satisfying, but I don’t like to do it. I was up late writing recently, I found myself still working at 4 a.m. and I got a craving for something, my body must have sense that it was time for breakfast but instead I had a glass of juice.
On his food quirks:
I’m reminded of times when I give a reading somewhere or I’m at an event and someone asks if I have any food allergies or if there are foods I don’t eat. I don’t have any allergies, but I don’t like eating fish. Well, not exactly. You could call this a food habit. I don’t like the smell of fish. I never have, but I like eating fish. I like fish & chips and sushi, especially sushi. I don’t have it often because I’m particular about the way I like fish but when I do it’s a treat.
On his final meal request:
I was reading your past contributor requests because I was curious if my last meal was similar to anyone else’s and I didn’t find similarities. Though I can’t imagine ever needing to make this request. I’d want to have this meal with my family and friends in a setting not unlike AWP where writers from all over are in one place at one time (surprisingly, Michael Martone said the same thing in his response).
- A Double-Double, Protein and Animal-style
- Animal-style fries
- A frosty glass of cherry Coke