Thursday, May 16, 2024

Q&A with Alan Silberberg



Alan Silberberg is the author and illustrator of the new children's board book P Is for Pastrami: The ABCs of Jewish Food. His other books include Meet the Latkes. An author, cartoonist, and children's TV creator, he lives in Montreal.


Q: What inspired you to create this alphabet book about Jewish food?


A: Creating Meet the Latkes, Meet the Matzah, and Meet the Hamantaschen, I found myself doodling lots of other anthropomorphic  “foods,” which I started to refer to as “foodles.” I even pitched the idea of “Meet the Foodles.”


Though Viking didn’t spark to that as a unique concept - they suggested the idea of an alphabet book of Jewish foods. So, big high-fives to the team there for the idea!


Q: How did you come up with some of the more unusual foods in the book?


A: The first thing I did along with my editor, Maggie Rosenthal, was to create a long list of A-Z foods that would fit into the idea.


Not surprisingly, some letters of the alphabet were chock full of noshy food (B; babka, bagel, borscht, brisket, etc…) while other letters initially drew a blank from the obvious “Ashkenazi” foods we both were familiar with.


I started doing research for foods from Sephardic cultures and other atypical Jewish sources for some of the harder letters of the alphabet and knew immediately that the book needed to be expansive and include foods unfamiliar to some people.


Injera, an Ethiopian flat bread; and Quajado, a Sephardic vegetable, cheese, and egg dish not only helped fill out the alphabet - but filled the book with Jewish foods some people could learn about.


Q: Do you have a particular favorite among these foods?


A: Personally, the only food in the book that I was unfamiliar with that I have actually eaten is Shakshuka -  and not only is it delicious but I do love that page in the book too.


Q: What do you hope kids (and adults) take away from the book?


A: I really wanted to create an alphabet book that would not only appeal to Jewish families but to everybody. I think the cartoon style and jokes in the book are fun for anybody. I also hope the book finds an audience beyond “babies” because who doesn’t love a funny book about food!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Right now I am finishing the art for a new picture book, The Bagel Who Wanted Everything, which is the story of a plain bagel in search of “more.” 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I love making funny books using food and the fact that I get to write and draw books that celebrate being Jewish is a wonderful gift I get to share.


Also, promoting P is for Pastrami I am getting to meet wonderful “Jewish foodie" people who want to feed me - so this new book is not only funny - but delicious!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Alan Silberberg.

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