Lakshmi makes a children’s book with a message

New York — Neira is a young girl who loves to cook with her mom. Saturday is her favorite day of the week. It’s the day they go to the green market.

That’s where Padma Lakshmi’s fascinating entry into the world of children’s books, “Tomatoes For Neela,” begins. It combines the author’s family cooking memories with practical cooking advice, nods to farmers, and even a pair of recipes.

“This is a very small personal story centered around a young single mother who is also a recipe writer like me,” said Lakshmi, Hulu’s host of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Taste The Nation.” say. “It’s about teaching children how to cook from an early age, respecting Mother Nature, and eating during the seasons.”

Neira and her mom make sauces from tomatoes purchased at the Green Market, make enough to bottle for the winter, and save them for sharing when grandmother next visits India. To do. Meanwhile, my grandmother is mentally present, looking down from the framed photo. Neira carefully writes down all recipes.

There is also a lesson in the history of tomatoes, where Neira was discussing the origins of fruits in Latin America and was actually afraid of them in some cultures. She learns that different varieties such as heirloom and cherry blossoms are suitable for different dishes. Since there are few seeds, I make sauce using plum tomatoes.

“Through food, my grandmother and mother taught me a lot about life and culture, and being human beings in the world, so through this book, families actively cook together and get together. We hope that we can cherish the recipes we have made for and encourage us to remember all of the different people who brought us. Be aware of the food and our environment, “says Lakshmi. ..

The beautiful artwork of Juana Martinez-Neal, who won the Caldecott Medal for “The Origin of Alma and Her Name,” brings the language to life. Lakshmi shared an online folder of family photos to make Neira and her mother look like writers and daughters. Martinez took advantage of her own memories of recreating a bustling green market in search of fresh produce in the Peruvian market.

Her image is full of life, texture and movement, giving the reader the feeling of a busy kitchen full of love, with a warm aroma and mom’s bracelet creating a gentle rhythm as she slices.

“It may feel very flat and two-dimensional, but we tried to make it a complete sensory experience — we have sound and taste. We all It feels good, “says Martinez-Neal.

The idea of ​​adding agricultural workers to this book came from Martinez Neil’s suggestion. “It’s easy to forget who is doing the job,” she says. Lakshmi liked this idea and added context and references about farmers at the end of the book.

“We often don’t consider many hands that affect our diet and our daily lives, and what the pandemic has shown us is how valuable and how everyone in the food chain is. Should it be evaluated by Lakshmi? “

The buds of this book were triggered a few years ago when Krishna, Lakshmi’s real daughter, came home craving for a pomegranate. Since it was summer, the mother explained that pomegranates would grow in the fall. Now is the tomato season.

“I wanted to talk about when fruits and vegetables grew up in season, because if you’re a kid and everything is available at all times, there’s no way to know why you need to eat a particular thing at a particular time. “She says. Is called. “Mother Nature has a plan for us to live in harmony.”

On the last page, Lakshmi dedicated the book to his daughter, who “makes everything meaningful.” This is a worthy appreciation for the work of two female artists celebrating their families through food.

“It’s a very autobiographical book,” says Lakshmi. “I’m not a child writer. I have no experience writing for this audience other than telling a story for my child at bedtime. So I had to write about what I knew. . “

Padmarakshmi will appear at the Producer Guild Awards held in Beverly Hills, California on January 19, 2019, with the cover art of Lakshmi’s children’s book “ Tomato Fornilla” and an illustration of Juana Martinez Neil on the left. It has been. The book mixes culinary memories with the author’s family with practical dietary advice, nods to farm workers, and even a pair of recipes.

Lakshmi makes a children’s book with a message

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