#DeezNups and the Meal Kits That Feed Us

Ice Queen Interviews Natalie Sharp

Ice Queen: How've you been?

Natalie: I should say several things before I forget them: One, Halah says hi, and I love you. And I'm sorry I haven't been in touch, but it's not you. And I will reach out soon and we really do mean it about brunch we're just terrible!

Ice Queen: Hi Halah, I love you. Take your time. No rush!

Natalie: Yeah, but that's One, Two— I don't know. Life's on fire. I feel like it's fine. I have a job I like, hooray! And like... things are fine except that they're not, you know? It's one of those, "I'm terrified to go to the grocery store, but [Apocalypse-is-happening-and-life-is-absurd voice] I do make enough money to get groceries delivered!" kinds of things. Do you want to outsource the danger? I don't know. Options.

Ice Queen: [Nodding vigorously] Mhmm, mhmm! Yep, yep, yep. All normal.

Natalie: Yeah, I dunno. My grandma passed away a few weeks ago on my dad's side.

Ice Queen: Oh, I'm so sorry!

Natalie: And I had just started reconnecting with that side of my family. So that was tough. But there's a family reunion in [Location removed for privacy, but probably your town tbh], a place I've never thought about before, at the beginning of August. So I'm excited about that and to just see a bunch of people with my face, some of whom will have my last name also.

Ice Queen: Also, congratulations on your engagement! Those pictures were perfect!

Natalie: I got a photographer because I don't have the skills. And I was like, you know what? This is not a time to have an ego about whether or not I could get her angles. [Both laugh] She knows I can't.

Ice Queen: Good choice!

Natalie: Literally that same day, we were walking the trails around the bed and breakfast— they have 13 or 14 hectares of lavender? Incredible— and when we were walking around and I was like, oh, do you want some pictures? And I tried to take some pictures. She was like, I look so ugly in these! And I was just like, I tried so hard. Someone else is about to do it way better.

Ice Queen: So it was a total, total surprise then?

Natalie: Yeah.

Ice Queen: [Sighs romantically] Loveeee that!

Natalie: Worked out, worked out super well. If you go to Italy and you don't have a city planned, and you want to go stay at the property of some old Italian folks who just bought a house and then like slowly have built things on the property, let me know. I will send you the link because Holy Shit, 10 out of 10 would recommend.

Ice Queen: That sounds amazing. [Leans in] How was the food?

Natalie: Oh my God.

Ice Queen: You still dream of it?

Natalie: [Very suddenly and declaratively] Yo, we had a roast chicken.

[Brief pause]

[Both laugh]

Ice Queen: I can't wait to transcribe that.

Natalie: Initially what was supposed to happen is I had hired a private chef to come in and do dinner at the bed and breakfast that night. But then his wife got in a car accident. [Very quickly] She's fine! We met her, she was not injured! It's just, you know, the car is out of commission!

So he was like, I will send someone to pick you up and take you here. Cause it's an hour from where you are. I'll get that person to bring you back too. And oh my God, like OG countryside type of cooking. So, VERY filling. [Brief pause] Wet bread, but in a way that I was fine with. Which is rare.

Ice Queen: [Kind of confused but going with it, nodding] Okay.

Natalie: And it was going to be a five-course meal, right? But in the end, it was about six or seven? And they just kept bringing us fuckin homemade wine and a full roast chicken that we couldn't eat— and it had this incredible coloration because he... [Speaking to herself] not basted it. Marinated it? Covered it?

I don't know what the right cooking word is but basically coated it in this puree of tomato and carrot, like a seasoned puree. Ridiculous. I didn't even know it was a thing you can do. I don't know why I didn't think about it, but like, I don't know, it's just not a recipe base that comes to mind.

Ice Queen: Because you don't have the space and money to be playing around with something that, if it doesn't work, you just wasted money buying a whole ass chicken, right?

Natalie: It's true. Yeah. And it's like an OG recipe. He was telling us what used to happen is it would be these times of like hunger or just being poor. And so you would make do with what you had—which means that you don't have like the fancy oils and flavors and shit like that, that you can put on the food. So you would use the meat you had and you would use the vegetables you had. So, tomatoes and carrots grow very well here and they would use that.

And this is a recipe he got from his dad who was growing up in Italy in the twenties and shit like that, where it's like, damn this is wild but somehow also delicious. It's like all Southern cooking— it's High on the Hog, but Italy addition. It was incredible.

Dessert was ridiculous. I still dream about that dessert. That's the part for me. There was like a whipped cream ice cream thing. I don't even know how to describe it. Like if cream cheese and whipped cream and ice cream had a love child that was not so cold it made your mouth hurt, but also kept its structure, but then melted in your mouth. Like, man, I don't know. I can't even describe the shit and I have no idea what it was called.


Ice Queen: That's so [drool sound] I want it, everything that you just said, I want.

Natalie: I want you to have it because I'm like, this is the kind of shit you would lose your mind, like fucking worth it. And he brought out like fucking little sparklers and shit, and like these tiny little reusable ceramic solo cups of liquers.

And he's, [Ticking fingers] We got the Lemoncello. We got Amaretto. We got— yeah, we just got back to the bed and breakfast drunk and happy. It was great. I think he thought I hadn't proposed to her earlier, like before we had dinner. She went to the bathroom and he was like, Okay. So we will turn out the lights and I will turn on the pretty lights. And I will put on the music. [Both laugh]

Ice Queen: I would've been so awkward—

Natalie: I went with it!

Ice Queen: Oh, you did? You proposed again? [Both CRACKING up] She comes back you're just like, Surprise!

Natalie: ~Una sorpresa!~ It was fine. She said yes twice. So I got that enthusiastic consent.

Ice Queen: I can just see Halah looking around, like, did I make up the first one?

Natalie: Deja vu motherfucker!

Ice Queen: [As a confused Halah] I got so drunk that I made up the first one?

Natalie: [Also as a confused Halah... we love you, Halah] I still have the ring on, so...

And it was like, it can't hurt. It's a fun story. I'll go with it.

Ice Queen: They'll remember it! That sounds amazing, I think that is a beautiful memory. Was that an impromptu trip to Italy that y'all took or how long had y'all planned on that?

Natalie: Oh, I had been planning it for... I'll say six months, but like the idea, I had the idea for probably like seven or eight. Cause I knew I was saving up for something— it was like, I don't know what for but I'll figure it out.

Initially, my plan was to go to this tree house hotel in Sweden, but I was like: A, getting to Sweden? Expensive. B, getting from the airport to that part of Sweden? Expensive. C, I don't know that I want to eat Sweden winter food. You know what I mean? A lot of fermentation, a lot of meats I'm not accustomed to. We will do that another time. Yeah.

Ice Queen: This is not the time to be adventurous!

Natalie: Right! Well, adventurous within reason— in a way that lots of other people also have enjoyed.

Ice Queen: In a way that is historically known to be delicious.

Natalie: She's wanted to go to Italy for a long time but didn't get to go when she was on her Watson back in 2014. So it was a full, full circle. I told her we were going to Italy as a Christmas gift. And I was like, so this trip's in March, and then I didn't tell her pretty much any of the other things. I was just like, Hey, here's some stuff that you need to bring and, you know, bring something you'd wear for a photo shoot.

Ice Queen: [As Natalie] No it's me, like, I'm going to take photos. We're going to be super cute in Italy, we're going to be that couple.

Natalie: Right. It was like, No, but actually.

Ice Queen: An actual photo shoot. Ha. ha! Surprise!


Natalie: [Meme voice] Got 'em! Anyway great times. I'm very happy to have gone. It was great.

Ice Queen: I want to say, more like deez nups! [Both laugh]

Natalie: Ayo! I'm excited for you to type that also.

Ice Queen: #deeznups

Natalie: [Valley girl] I smell a wedding hashtag!

Ice Queen: Halah's gonna be like, [Very unamused] No.

Natalie: But I am going to be like, Okay. But what if I clearly indicate that it's not an official hashtag?

Ice Queen: It's just an inside joke hashtag... if people wanted to use it that's fine.


So speaking of money. This is my segue.

Natalie: Beautiful, perfect.

Ice Queen: Tell me about, "Money Woes."

Natalie: So several months back, I was trying to write into the experience of being broke as fuck? Because for the first time in my life, I'm not? And yeah, just reflecting on that experience feels important to me. Especially as a means of like solidarity maintenance, you know? And just to be real about that experience for me, sort of bearing witness to it, feels important.

Ice Queen: If someone, for whatever reason, happened to be reading this interview and had not read "Money Woes"— which, what are you thinking? Go! Go read it. Right. Now!— how would you describe it to them?

Natalie: "Money Woes" is the internal monologue of a young person who needs money, but mostly doesn't have it, and as a result, is often hungry... but that hunger is for more than food.

Ice Queen: Beautiful. Love a nutshelling. Yeah, when I was reading it—so much of what was happening, I still vividly remember as well. I remember your car and all of the drama attached to your car. The drama and the love.

And it brought me back very quickly. And I started to remember our lunch dates that we would sometimes go on. And I think it was because, I loved being able to do that because being with Héctor sort of put me in that position of not not having money for the first time? I didn't have to worry about like, ALL the rent necessarily. And so we could go out and just like [Shimmies shoulders] get mimosas, do all that. And I love that... [at a loss for words] trying to think how to word it.

Natalie: Can I offer a framing that might help?

Ice Queen: [Desperately] Yeeees!

Natalie: It feels good to be in a position to support your friends, when you have been availed of resources, they might not have yet. And it's not paternalistic, you know, it's not like Wow. She's so poor she can't do it herself. It's, I care about this person. I enjoy spending time with them and we can do something together that meets a need we both have. Right? Everybody gotta eat.

Ice Queen: Exactly that! I loved this story. I mean, I love your writing anyways, but as soon as I saw it I was like, of fucking course Natalie would be the first person to address a lack of food. It's a food magazine, but with that comes Not Having. So I love that you're bringing that up early on in the Ice Queen career. Thank you.

Natalie: You're welcome. I was going to write about Waffle House because I was listening to a really awesome podcast— I'm the podcast friend. I think everybody knows that by this point— I listened to a really great podcast called Rebel Eaters Club. The podcast is hosted by a fat feminist (Virgie Tovar) who talks about fat feminism and fat activism and has on guests to talk about food. And there was this really great episode with Shay Neary. And in that episode, they were talking about how food is a witness to a lot of things in our lives. And Shay was talking about a comfort food of hers and she's like, "But it's a comfort food because it was food I could get in a bar that my parents had brought me to that was easily prepared."

That's really a huge part of it because food is witness to a lot of things, but hunger is also witness to a lot of things, and the circumstances around them. Often interrelated, but not always. So I thought it would be something interesting to explore— even though I'm going to write that Waffle House essay one of these days!

Ice Queen: They're both on brand, right? Like Waffle House is Natalie. Natalie is Waffle House. Everybody knows this. But also talking about a lack of something, like bringing attention to it is also so very

on-brand Natalie.