Pamela's Kar-Ben book debut was the charming Don't Sneeze at the Wedding, a story about Anna who is scared she'll sneeze during her flower girl duties at her aunt's wedding. Along the way, she gets advice on how to stifle a big "achoo" while she participates in all the excitement of the day--everything from getting her hair done to signing the ketubah. (Yes, this is a must-buy if you have a little flower girl in your life.)
Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup is new this fall, and it is a terrific book about a young girl and her grandmothers' different-but-the-same soup. Praised by Kirkus as a "good-hearted tale," we think you'll like it. We caught up with Pamela to ask her about the book, and, of course, chicken soup.
KAR-BEN: What inspired you to write Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup?
PM: I have long been fascinated by food culture, especially how there are similar dishes prepared in different traditions, food like blintzes and crepes, for example. Kreplach and wonton are both dumplings, and nearly every world cuisine features some sort of dumpling. Food and family are both important in Chinese and Jewish culture. I knew I wanted to write about a family who was both Chinese and Jewish, so food was one of the first things I thought about. Growing up in San Francisco, I knew many Chinese families. In fact, we used to joke at my high school that if Rosh Hashanah and Chinese New Year were on the same day, the school would be empty!
KAR-BEN: What is your favorite chicken soup?
PM: My favorite chicken soup will always be the soup made by my grandmother, Manya Pavlovsky, my father's mother. She was a fabulous cook who made many wonderful dishes. Everything was homemade, from scratch, including the noodles and kreplach in her chicken soup. She cooked the way her mother had taught her in Russia, and her recipes were in her head, not written down. When she hosted a large family dinner, which she did often, she prepared many different dishes so that everyone could have one of their favorites. In addition, everyone left her house with a care package, enough food for dinner the next day. And don't even get me started on her desserts! Her cakes, cookies, and apple strudel were divine. Although she died in 1993, I still remember her good cooking. It was one of the ways my grandmother expressed her love for her family.
KAR-BEN: Why do you think chicken soup tastes so good, especially when made my Bubbes and Nai Nais?PM: Chicken soup has long been called the Jewish penicillin, and there is something to that. What tastes better than hot delicious soup when one is feeling ill or blue? Homemade food really does have that certain special ingredient. Of course, Jewish and Chinese grandmas like to see their grandchildren eat well, to grow up strong and healthy. I have a little granddaughter named Molly. I hope she will associate certain good foods, including homemade soup, with me, and with my love for her.
Get your copy of Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup today.