Wren Awry is a queer, neuroatypical writer living in Tucson. They write about fairy tales, food, literature, ecology, history and film from an anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist perspective. They’re the founding editor of Tiny Donkey, a journal of fairy-tale nonfiction affiliated with Fairy Tale Review and their essays and poems have been published by filmmakermagazine.com, Rust + Moth, Essay Daily, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, and Anarcho-Geek Review. They have recently released a poetry zine titled “The Seams and the Story #2: Autobiography in Lungs,” and their zine “Luminescent Interferences: Locating Geneviève Hamon” is forthcoming from Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness.
Here, they talk Appalachian cuisine, the Sonoran hot dog, and a final meal of finger foods.
On their all-time favorite meal:
The first time I ate fried green tomatoes. I was nineteen, and visiting southern Ohio—the part that’s Appalachian—and an elderly couple invited my friends and I over for lunch. They lived on this sprawling property covered in broken-down vintage cars—the gentleman was a car collector. The lady in the pair served us a big meal of ice tea, macaroni and cheese, and fried green tomatoes. I’d never tried one before, and the crisp outside matched with the tart inside blew my mind.
Later, I lived in West Virginia and Western North Carolina, where I fell in love with Appalachian and southern cuisine. Soup beans, southern cornbread, collards, ramp butter, pulled pork, and biscuits are some of my favorite foods. Those fried green tomatoes were not only delicious in their own right, but symbolize all the other tastes and flavors I would come to know in the south. Then my friend Annie taught me how to make a DIY remoulade with mayonnaise, hot sauce, and sage, which brought the fried green tomato game to the next level. I make them maybe once a year, and always serve them with that remoulade.
On what the light looks like during their favorite meal of the day:
When I moved to Arizona from the Southeast, I discovered the magic of golden hour—that hour before dusk, when all the colors and shadows in the landscape that are usually drowned out by the harsh sun pop. I don’t spend much time hiking or camping in the Sonoran desert anymore—I’m mostly in Tucson finishing my studies and writing—but when I first moved here, I did, and I loved sitting in the bed of a pick-up truck snacking and watching the mountains during golden hour. In my perfect scenario, I’m eating cured meat on rice crackers, because that’s my favorite food to carry with me into the desert. In reality, I’m probably eating a PB and J or a cold burrito.
On snacking while writing:
When I’m writing, I’m usually drinking ice-water and crunching on the ice. I’m pretty addicted to ice—I must go through at least three trays a day. It’s probably my favorite snack, which is a little weird, since it’s just frozen water. I’ve accumulated a lot of mostly-useless knowledge about ice cubes over the years: how different cube shapes crunch, how long to leave them in the water for the best ice-chewing texture.
As far as actual food goes, it really depends on what’s lying around my kitchen. I love quesadillas with queso fresco and Herdez salsa verde. Oreos are my favorite snack splurge, and when I’m feeling extra decadent I dip them in peanut butter.
On their go-to late-night snack:
If I’m at home, popcorn, because it’s what I usually have on hand. If I’m out-and-about, I’ll grab pizza, tacos, or a Sonoran dog—a hot dog wrapped in bacon, covered in pinto beans, and served on a Mexican sweet bun. On the rare night when I’m out and want a proper meal, my favorite spot is a Latin sandwich shop that’s open late and serves delicious cubanos with yucca chips.
On their food quirks:
I hate, hate, hate cooked bell peppers. Something about the texture. I will, however, eat them raw or if they’re cooked into soup, because in a soup they basically disappear.
On their final meal request:
I would probably eat my favorite light finger foods—blood oranges, radishes with paprika-lemon butter, chocolate—because if it’s my last meal, I’m probably really sick or nervous or both. I’d eat the meal at my favorite spot on Mt. Lemmon, Incinerator Ridge. I’m probably supposed to say that I’d want all my family and friends there, but if it’s my last meal, I’m way too nervous to be around them. So I’d just eat with my partner, Tyler, who is used to me being a nervous wreck sometimes anyway!