Claudia D. Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She’s a photographer, poet, editor, translator, and a bilingual educator residing in Los Angeles. She is the author of Knitting the Fog, the 2018 winner of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize, published by the Feminist Press in July 2019. She is also the Editor of Women, Mujeres, Ixoq: Revolutionary Visions, published by Conocimientos Press in 2017. Hernández is the founder of the ongoing project: Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.
Here, she talks about her grandmother’s cooking, a daily champurrada with coffee, and a feast as her final meal.
On her all-time favorite meal:
I have so many favorite dishes from my motherland, Guatemala. For example, platanos fritos, ensalada rusa, rellenitos, salpicón, molletes, chiles rellenos, chuchitos, but my all-time favorite meal has to be the enchiladas. My grandma’s enchiladas. These are crispy corn tortillas topped with shredded beef topped with vegetables on a bed of romaine lettuce. I remember when my grandmother used to make these to sell in the neighborhood. She would usually let us eat one enchilada at home and the rest were made specifically to sell. One was never enough for me. I would pray that my uncles wouldn’t sell all of them so that they would bring a few back home. But that was never the case. Mamatoya’s enchiladas were a hit in our town. People always wanted more, just like I wanted more.
On what the light looks like during her favorite meal of the day:
Sunset serves several purposes for me: it’s the best light to take a photograph, and it’s also the best light to unwind, drink wine and eat a tostada con frijoles with my partner. My grandmother taught my mother how to make the best frijoles volteados, and for some reason I always remember my grandma cooking at sunset. The light hitting her comal at an angle through her rectangular window. My grandma standing there, flipping the tortillas, stirring the frijoles. What a beautiful sight.
On snacking while writing:
I drink wine while I write. If available, I snack on chocolate and cashews. For the most part: I eat pepino with sal, & limón.
Her go-to late-night snack:
On her food quirks:
I’m a Panera. I eat champurradas (Guatemalan cookies) with my coffee daily.
On her final meal request:
For my last meal, I want to be in my town Tactic, Guatemala, and I want a feast. I want my whole family to be present and I want my grandmother’s cooking, but I want her to be sitting down by my side, not cooking or serving anyone. I want a table filled with all her delicacies such as: kaq’ik, jocón, chompipe, hilachas, fiambre, yucca con chicharrón, revolcado, tamales, paches, shucos, pepián, etc. I want all four of us: my grandmother, my mother, me, and my daughter—all four generations sitting together—enjoying the feast and getting along. I want to allow ourselves to be present and to enjoy our last moment together.