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The Joys of ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN with Adriana Hernández Bergstrom

Five Questions with Adriana Hernández Bergstrom, Author and Illustrator of ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN

From idea to pub date, how long did it take to cook up your book?

The earliest drafts of ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN were in late 2017, and I finally shared the most boring and lengthy draft in 2018 with my first critique group. It simmered for several years as I made revisions and edits, it sold in 2020, and finally came out of the oven and was published in 2022!

Describe your book in 3 words.

imperfect family love

What “ingredients” make a kidlit book “delicious” to you?

I really enjoy an imperfect main character, evocative or engaging illustrations, and a story I can really dig into... like a good flan?

What meal evokes a strong memory for you?

There are several that evoke strong memories. The smell of sofrito (our food trinity: onions, diced bell peppers, and garlic) with the mojo sauce of Cuban food usually transports me, and it brings me back to eating with my family on Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) and most evening meals. The other taste that I used to crave when I lived abroad was for croquetas  de pollo (chicken croquettes) and saltines. I used to eat those at my grandmother's, that and garlic/mojo chicken, Cuban black beans and white rice. Talking about Cuban food always makes me miss my elders that have long since passed away. I wouldn't pick off the onions now, Abuelita!

What is your favorite family tradition (food or non-food related)?

Within my own nuclear family I try to teach my kid to bake and cook for himself. We also go to the museum a lot and sketch. It is really lovely to see him interpret the same subject matter in his own way. I hope he never loses his creative voice.

Two Questions About the Book with Audrey and Gennie

What’s your favorite ingredient of this story?  

[Audrey Perrott] I love the stories within the story of this book! It transported me back to my grandmother's kitchen and home and the ways I would help her around the house while listening to her tell stories about my mom, aunts, and uncles.

[Gennie Gorback] Reading this book flooded me with nostalgic feelings: the joy of feeling old enough to cook with my grandma, the excitement to eat a great I helped make, and the tummy-twisting guilt of breaking something important and having to come clean. 

What food did this story inspire you to make? 

[AP]  My grandmother used to make rice pudding, especially at Christmastime, and I have one of her old cookbooks from the ladies at her church. I found one of her friend's recipes, but even better, I found an old typed letter from one of those friends to my grandmother! The best part? The friend was talking about a book she was trying to get published and she lamented over the fact that publishing is a hard industry with lots of waiting involved! It cracked me up and was a delightful surprise.

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