Stevie Edwards is the author of two poetry collections, Good Grief (Write Bloody) and Humanly (Small Doggies), as well as a recent chapbook Sadness Workshop (Button Poetry). She holds a poetry M.F.A. from Cornell and is a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at Univ. of North Texas. Her poems appear in Crazyhorse, Redivider, West Branch, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, and Ninth Letter. Her article “A Room without Men: Toward Defining a Feministic Poetics” recently appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle. She is founder/editor-in-chief of Muzzle Magazine and a senior editor at YesYes Books.
Here, she talks aphrodisiacs, ice cream, and the act of cooking as a cure for a bad day.
On her all-time favorite meal:
This is a tough one. I’m tempted to say some good comfort food from my mother (like chicken n’ dumplings or meatloaf and mashed potatoes), but I am pretty sure my favorite meal ever was a family style meal I ate at a restaurant called Broken Spanish during the Los Angeles AWP conference a couple years back. I think it’s not currently on their menu, but I remember eating a rabbit dish that changed my life–also, we had a whole red snapper. There was a fairly large group of writers, and we had a bunch of plates that we shared as a group; I just remember the pure delight of trying each dish and the explosion of flavor in every bite. I’ve never really believed aphrodisiacs were a real thing, but after eating that meal I felt a bit hot and bothered (I apologize if that’s TMI). I really want an excuse to go back to Los Angeles just so that I can eat at Broken Spanish again.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
My favorite meal is definitely dinner. I cook a lot; tonight I’m putting steaks on the grill and making a fresh salad with lots of tomatoes, basil, and balsamic; I usually make delicious, simple food (though sometimes I get fancy). I never have much appetite early in the day, but I seem to always feel starving by the time it starts to get dark outside.
Cooking helps me unwind from my day, and I also like that I can almost always make people happy from the simple act of cooking. Like, maybe I’ve had a shitty day with a bunch of complaining emails or a classroom discussion that went awry, but somebody is still going to be happy when I put a tasty plate of food in front of them.
On snacking while writing:
Oh God, I try not to, but if I am really trying to push out some writing quickly, I usually need something salty, something sweet, and a mug of coffee. My go-tos are often salt n’ vinegar chips and anything with dark chocolate. I try to convince myself to eat hummus and carrots or something, but if there’s a big deadline, that plan tends to deteriorate pretty quickly.
On her go-to late-night snack:
Ice cream! I love basically all flavors of ice cream. Especially the kind that include chocolate (mint chocolate chip, cookie dough, moose tracks…I will devour it all if you put it in front of me). Beyond that, I mostly just snack on leftovers or cereal.
On her food quirks:
I’m not sure if this counts, but I wash my hands an exorbitant amount of times anytime I cook meat. Also, my fiancée thinks it’s weird that I drink hot chocolate and coffee through the coffee stirrers sometimes when it’s very hot and I don’t want to burn my tongue, though I think it’s an entirely rational choice.
I also recently have become grossed out by the smell of eggs (scrambled, fried, hardboiled — it doesn’t matter). I’m not sure where that came from; I was a vegetarian for years and used to eat tons of eggs for protein. Also, after reading Kristeva’s “Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection,” I sometimes can’t deal with milk (there’s a long, detailed section describing the speaker’s revulsion to the skin on the surface of milk in order to enact experiencing abjection for the reader… or at least that’s what I think is happening).
On her final meal request:
There’d better be some fluffy mashed potatoes with lots of garlic and sour cream. I would probably say with a thick pork chop, roasted asparagus, and a big piece of pie (maybe banana or coconut cream?). I suppose I’d be eating it on my back porch with my fiancée, though I feel like that’s maybe a corny answer. We have a really nice screened porch, and we eat a lot of our meals there. I’d probably want to cook it myself, although I suppose if it’s my last meal, maybe I wouldn’t have the capacity to do that? I would want something comforting and familiar (and delicious).