My Inspiration for Writing Abuela's Fideo: A Story of a Grandma's Love
By: Gabriela Tijerina
Growing up in Laredo Texas, I often felt like I was a river away from my culture. I was a 3rd generation Mexican American with most of my family here in Texas. Growing up I spoke little Spanish and rarely visited Mexico. Although I sometimes felt disconnected to my culture, but I always had food.
I grew up eating the most amazing Mexican food. At carne asadas where we’d sit together outside and eat fajita and homemade tacos. During the wintertime, my family would make caldo de res or pozole to keep ourselves warm, and we would share tamales for the Christmas and New Years. I’d want tortillas with butter in the morning, instead of eggs and bacon and crave mazapan and cajeta for something sweet in the afternoon. I realized that food was the thing tying me to my culture and family, and there was no better food than my grandmother’s.
When I was 19 years old my paternal grandmother, Florita Tijerina, passed away from cancer. It shook my family, and in my grief, I found that all I wanted was her homemade tortillas. My family and I talked about how fluffy and tasty they would be, and we even looked at local restaurants to find homemade tortillas that were closest to hers, but none were. And even if they did, they weren’t made by her. I remember regretting I didn’t ask her to teach me before she got sick and regretting more thinking that they’d always be there.
From that moment on, I vowed to learn all my favorite dishes my family made, so none would be lost again. This started with my maternal grandmother’s tortillas. They didn’t taste like Florita’s, but they had all the love and warmth I was looking for. In time she taught me to make her fideo, and so many memories flashed back to me: my trips to my grandmother’s house after church on Sunday, birthday parties, and family dinners. I remembered how much this soup could bring people together, and I was so grateful to learn this recipe to pass down to my future family.
I wanted to write Abuela’s Fideo for the children who were like me - missing a loved one and wanting to remember them through food. I based the design of Dulce on childhood friends and me as a child. I wanted her to have a happy ending and work with her mother to find the love she was missing from her Abuela.
Abuela's Fideo was therapeutic for me in many ways. It is a love letter to my grandmothers. It is a love letter to Mexican comfort food. It pushed me to write and illustrate a book - something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. And I’ve seen how Abuela’s Fideo: A Story of a Grandma's Love touches people who have had similar experiences with their loved ones, and as an author and an artist this is all I could as for.
I want to thank Del Alma Publications for this chance to share my story and I invite you all to share a copy of Abuela’s Fideo: A Story of a Grandma's Love with a loved one.