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Tomatoes for Neela

By: Padma Lakshmi Illustrated by: Juana Martinez-Neal

Neela loves to cook with her amma.

Neela and Amma go to the market to get tomatoes then they follow Paati’s recipe to make a batch of sauce. This beautifully illustrated picture book showcases the bond between family and food.

Tomatoes for Neela brought back childhood memories of picking wild grapes after the first frost with my family. We would spend a day picking grapes then we would spend a day making grape jelly. I distinctly remember straining the grape juice through cheesecloth. Now, during fall, I catch a hint of that wild grape smell when I am on my daily walk. That smell always reminds me of this family fall tradition.

Fifth graders share their favorite food stories:

Caramel Apples by Ava A. 
I was sitting at home and it was my day to make a family snack. I picked caramel apples. So I got caramels from the candy cabinet. Then I turned on the stove. I got a pot and filled it with hot water then I put a bowl on top. I dropped in a few caramels. I waited for the caramels to melt. I waited for 1 to 2 minutes. When it was done, I got 4 popsicle sticks and I stabbed them into the 4 apples. I dipped them in and I put them on a plate. I served them. My sister, Mom, and Dad liked them and so did I!
Macarons by Jack

One day in third grade, I checked out a book called Nerdy Nummies from the library on a class trip. It’s next to the school. Anyways, moving on.

The next day, I got the ingredients to make “Moon Phase Macarons”, and we made them. My dad and I mixed the ingredients and put them on the sheet. When they came out of the oven, though, they looked more like deformed ovals than macarons. We decorated them and they looked like deformed ovals held together by icing with a fake icing moon on top. They didn’t even taste good, but my mom liked them. The End
Food Garden by O. A-P.

That day my mom woke me up at 7:00 am, on a Sunday by the way. She pulled off my sheets and said,  “We’re starting it today!” We walked downstairs and I had a quick breakfast, scrambled eggs with a bagel on the side. Then my mom and I went outside. The sun was shining and it was very hot out. I was still half asleep and had pretty much no idea what was going on.

“Where are we going?” I asked groggily. 

“We’re going to start a garden today,” she replied. But neither of us had any idea how hard that was going to be. We started clearing out the grass in a corner beside the porch. And worked right up to the end of the day. By sunset we had removed all the grass in the corner, made a low stone wall around it, and planted tomato, basil, and mint plants. “That was a good day's work for our first food garden,” said my mom. 

I agreed.

1 thought on “Tomatoes for Neela”

  1. The fifth grade writers were descriptive and clear. I could see the moments they described in their words vividly in my mind. Thanks so much for sharing, and thank them for their wonderful writing.

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