I’ve always loved books. I grew up in New Jersey with three younger sisters in a busy house with a lawyer dad and a stay-at-home mom, and to get away from the noise I would hide in my room and read. My father brought home a bag full of books for me each week and by seventh grade I had a collection four shelves high in my bedroom.
In 8th grade I was lucky enough to be in Señora Toma’s Spanish class. She was energetic and demanding and one of the best teachers I ever had. One day I told her I was going to be a psychologist but she said that would never happen because I talked too much. She was right. I discovered I loved languages and ended up studying Spanish and French in high school. I majored in both languages at Skidmore College and spent a semester of my junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain.
Today I’m a middle school Spanish teacher and I can spend the whole day talking in Spanish AND English! I’m still an avid reader, too, and my classroom has a tall bookshelf filled with books for kids of all ages.
While in Madrid in college, I lived with a woman named Esperanza and her 9 year old daughter, Lorena. Esperanza was a fabulous cook; every day she went to different markets to buy fresh meat, fruits, fish and vegetables. The three of us ate dinner very late—around 10:00 p.m.—which is the normal dinner time in Spain. Early on in my stay Esperanza made a cold tomato soup that I had never tasted before. “Es gazpacho,” she told me. I wasn’t sure I’d like cold soup but I knew it was rude to refuse to try it, so I did. And it was delicious. Esperanza made gazpacho for almost every dinner!
In 2004, I returned to Madrid over the summer to study with a group of teachers. It was so hot in the city that I ate a bowl of gazpacho at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I even reunited with Esperanza! She invited me to lunch at the apartment where I’d lived in college and, remembering that I loved gazpacho, had prepared a bowl for me. The idea for “Gazpacho for Nacho” grew from that summer in Madrid.