Sara Hovda was born and raised in rural Minnesota. After receiving an MA from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, she returned to the Rochester area, where she now lives and focuses on her gender transition in addition to her poetry. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, Nashville Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. You can find her online at SaraHovda.com and on Twitter @SaraHovda.
Here, she talks about fancy Red Bull, uncooked ramen, and a plethora of shrimp and noodles as final meal.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I was in Paris after undergrad, traveling due to a bunch of my professors pushing me that way. I went to the Centre Pompidou, and I was supposed to absorb some culture or something, I guess. I reserved a table at the restaurant on the roof of the building for late that night to relax after spending five or six hours walking around the museum and taking pictures.
I was still pretending to be male, so I was in a sleeveless t-shirt and gym shorts, and the restaurant staff didn’t flinch. I ordered shrimp linguine and then a chocolate dessert, I believe, but really the highlight was the Red Bull I ordered. The waiter brought the can out to the table, opened it in front of me, and poured the drink into a thin wine glass. I don’t know if the glass shape affects an energy drink the way it’s supposed to for wine, but I believe it’s the best Red Bull I’ve ever had, and it’s definitely the fanciest.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
It’s dark out the window, but in my bedroom there’s a lamp shining so that I can read whatever book of poetry I’m currently on while I’m eating a bowl or two of ramen. Tonight, the book will be Music for a Wedding by Lauren Clark, though last week it was Carl Phillips’ newest collection. I might get up at some point, mid-meal, and walk outside to look at the sky. The stars are very bright out where I’m at, so I can pick out the one or two constellations I remember. But it’s quiet outside, quiet inside, and it feels like I can focus and read things as fully as I want to. It’s one of the only times I can slow down and taste the food too, so I save the fancy, imported ramen for late at night.
It all sounds like a contemporary version of a high-Romantic cliché, but it’s just relaxing. And I’m sure I’ve got a little bit of that sappiness in me too.
On snacking while writing:
I don’t, sadly. But I write as I’m falling asleep, laptop on my stomach and a pillow over my head, for the most part. If I’m editing/not doing that daily routine, then maybe I’ll be having some pretzels or something, but nothing habitual.
On her go-to late-night snack:
Ramen. Sometimes it’ll be a Lara Bar or a Luna Bar or cookies, but usually it’s ramen. If I’m feeling particularly lazy, I’ll have some of that cheap, three-for-a-dollar Maruchan ramen uncooked. Apparently this is either a thing you’ve done or a thing you’re going to find incredibly unsettling, but you just open the bag, pull out the seasoning packet, crush up the ramen itself, and then pour the seasoning in. Shake it for a bit, and you’re good to go. It’s like ramen chips or something.
On her food quirks:
I apparently like ramen a lot more than the average American. But other than the strange things I’ve already outlined (my entire food routine is a quirk, I guess), not really.
On her final meal request:
I’d order a variety of shrimp-and-noodles dishes. Shrimp rigatoni in red sauce, shrimp linguine alfredo, shrimp yakisoba, some fancy shrimp ramen. Probably some shrimp-and-scallops hibachi too, to round it out. Maybe some cheese-stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer. I don’t think I’d even get dessert, unless it’s more shrimp and scallops?
I’d want to be outside on a patio at sunset, with a breeze just strong enough to keep me cool, but not strong enough to agitate the silverware or anything. Did I mention I’m a sap? The sun going down might be symbolic of something or another, but it’d just be really nice to look at.
At this point, I’d pick some of my closest friends who’ve supported me as I’ve been doing this whole transition thing. Jessi could nap on the floor after we eat while Mallory and I talk about video games or something. Michael and Anjana and Meredith could come, with the latter suggestion various drinks to pair with my colony of food. I think I’d really like that: a few friends and a lot of noodles.