What the Mouth Wants

By (author): Monica Meneghetti

The redefinition of family values as seen from the eyes of a polyamorous, queer Italian Canadian obsessed with food.

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.


Monica Meneghetti

Monica Meneghetti’s first book, What the Mouth Wants: A Memoir of Food, Love and Belonging (Dagger Editions, 2017) was a Lambda Literary Award finalist and tied as the Bi Book Award winner. The book speaks to an array of open-minded readers, from foodies to relationship anarchists. Her translation from Italian, The Call of the Ice: Climbing 8000-meter Peaks in Winter (Mountaineers Books) was a Banff Mountain Book Award finalist. Her essay about being a queer child of Italian immigrants is found in The Globe and Mail. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction appear in print, online, in musical scores, and on stage.

Meneghetti offers manuscript development services, with a focus on supporting marginalized voices. Born in the region of Treaty 7 (Calgary), she gratefully acknowledges being an unsettled white settler, living on unceded traditional Coast Salish territories (Vancouver).


“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

“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

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


  • Lambda Literary Awardu2014 Bisexual Nonfiction 2017, Runner-up
  • Bisexual Book Awards u2014 Memoir 2017, Winner
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    168 Pages
    8.00in * 5.30in * .60in


    March 08, 2017


    Caitlin Press



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