Literary Mama has brought me many great writer friends, and Elrena Evans was one of the first. She submitted an essay to the section I edited, and over the course of our editorial correspondence we hatched the plans for our first book; Mama, PhD was our exploration of whether it’s possible to combine a career in higher education with a satisfying family life. We learned a lot about each other during the years we worked on that book — we had three children, so that alone gave us plenty to talk about — and Elrena published a lot of terrific work: a long-running column on Literary Mama, a collection of short stories — but I didn’t know what her food story might be until her pitch arrived.

In fact, she sent us two: one sweet vignette about her toddler’s first taste of toasted marshmallow and another, darker piece about her own food issues and how she feared they might have been inherited by her daughter. Elrena’s gorgeous, brutally honest essay proves that celebrating with food doesn’t always involve a feast. Sometimes a simple bite of banana can be a triumph.