What the Mouth Wants

A Memoir of Food, Love and Belonging

Monica Meneghetti

This mouthwatering, intimate, and sensual memoir traces Monica Meneghetti’s unique life journey through her relationship with food, family and love. As the youngest child of a traditional Italian-Catholic immigrant family, Monica learns the intimacy of the dinner table and the ritual of meals, along with the requirements of conformity both at the table and in life. Monica is thirteen when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoes a mastectomy. When her mother dies three years later, Monica considers the existence of her own breasts and her emerging sexuality in the context of grief and the disintegration of her sense of family.

As Monica becomes an adult, she discovers a part of her self that rebels against the rigours of her traditional upbringing. And as the layers of her sexuality are revealed she begins to understand that like herbs infusing a sauce with flavour, her differences add a delicious complexity to her life.

But in coming to terms with her place in the margins of the margins, Monica must also face the challenge of coming out while living in a small town, years before same-sex marriage and amendments to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms created safer spaces for queers. Through risk, courage, and heartbreak, she ultimately redefines and recreates family and identity according to her own alternative vision.

“Through vivid, dream-like vignettes, Monica Meneghetti explores that which sustains families, both biological and chosen, through loss and growth. Written with the precision of a recipe and the lyricism of a poem, What the Mouth Wants approaches difficult or misunderstood topics—the death of a parent, childhood and ancestral trauma, bisexuality, and polyamory—with sensitivity and honesty.”
— Sierra Skye Gemma, winner of a National Magazine Award and National Newspaper Award

“In delicious bite-sized morsels, Monica Meneghetti serves up a feast of memory that will leave you richly satisfied—yet ravenous for more.”
— Susan Olding, award-winning writer and author

What the Mouth Wants expresses with eloquent candor that while there are boundaries and behaviors to challenge, others of flesh and blood are sometimes best left alone.”
—Meg Nola, Foreword Reviews