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NORWALK - Local hairstylist Maricela Avelar Scott, an aunt to the children of her four older siblings, provided tips on "How to be a Fabulous Aunt" in a 44-page book (her first) she wrote two years ago.
Confessing to a creative streak ("I also love art, and like to draw, color, and paint"), Maricela has come up with a second book, this time narrating little anecdotes about her family through their experiences with Mexican bread.
Maricela says Mexican bread has played a central role in her family's scheme of things: "It represents our Mexican culture and a tradition that has been in my family for many years. From weddings to birthdays to funerals, Mexican bread was our companion...We laughed, we ate, we cried, we ate, we got angry, we ate."
Stories about her grandmother, mother, father, brothers, sisters, and a cousin or two who through the years shared joys, travails and adventures, and, of course, their favorite Mexican bread, fill much of the book. In the process, Maricela bares her heart and her soul, but always she speaks more of the other persons in her life, the people who moved in her intimate circle, beloved personalities who in more ways than one had much to do in shaping her own life.
Indeed, she calls the book "a family autobiography."
Of her grandmother (her abuelita), who took care of the children when her parents were at work, Maricela says it was her preparing Mexican-style breakfasts especially that "brought the whole family together...her homemade tortillas, made from flour or corn dough, were especially delicious because of the love, attention and detail she put into its preparation."
More important, she says, "She was the first to teach us how to read, write, and pray."
Her mother was "the acknowledged matriarch of our family," Maricela says. "She was a strong, determined, but loving woman. She was our confidant and friend. Like my grandmother, she was a great storyteller and she loved to sew dresses and costumes for us. She taught us how to sweep and wash dishes, how to fold one's laundry properly, how to mop with 'Pine Sol'. When my sisters started dating, she insisted I come along with them. I loved tagging along and being obnoxious around their boyfriends."
"In my Mexican bread family," Maricela says, "where we all have loud voices, her father had the "loudest voice I've ever heard. My mother thought it was in the family's genes...A giving, thoughtful man who loved to whistle, he was the type of man who would take off his jacket and give it to someone who needed it." He would bring home fresh-baked Mexican bread and insisted on clean and polished shoes. His favorite hobby was refereeing soccer games; a highlight was his meeting and getting photographed with the legendary Pele (the photo is in back of the book). He was the one who inspired me to become a hairstylist."
"My brother, the eldest in the family, was a man of many talents," she says. "His creativity extends to writing poetry, drawing and painting. Possessed with a tremendous work ethic, he had been a teacher, an outstanding one, for many years. He also enjoys cooking his own Mexican food. Several years ago, he had an opportunity to work on a radio talk show at a local station in Los Angeles. He talked on different topics and he developed a range of fans from all over Southern California. My mother was his number one fan; she never missed any of his radio shows. Today, my brother and two of my sisters are enjoying being grandparents themselves. I enjoy following what's going on with their lives. So what a great pleasure it is when we have the opportunity to get together."
Maricela also writes fondly about a cousin who came from Guadalajara to live with the family. "He was a wonderful, fun-loving but hardworking guy with a unique sense of humor, a trait that endeared him to my family. He was fifteen when his father brought him to our house. He came from a musical family, and he enjoyed playing the guitar and singing with my brother, sisters and friends. He also loved to eat large bowls of corn flakes, plain mayonnaise and tomato sandwiches. He was a big part of our family for a long time."
She also writes about another cousin who loved to buy old, used cars, and this spawned a lot of humorous tales. He worked in a gas station in East Los Angeles and had many opportunities to purchase old, beat-up vehicles.
"We never knew what kind of car he would bring home," Maricela says. "His first car had no upholstery...You can just imagine to what desperate lengths he - we - resorted to in order to make it work for our purposes (like stuffing the seats with newspapers). At another time he brought home a car with no muffler..."
Maricela also provides some "old world Mexican cooking" recipes towards the end of the book. She has recipes for sopa seca de tortilla, ravioles Mexicanos, relleno de picadillo, chiles rellenos, and good, old-fashioned empanadas. When asked for their English translations, she said no: she says it is her tribute to her Mexican heritage.
Maricela has been busy promoting her most recent book, which came out in August. She says she has talked at a couple of elementary schools at least, been on a radio talk show, and has had book signings at a few places. She's very gratified at how well her book has been received and that sales are doing well.
It's available at the following bookstores and websites: Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena; Gatsby Books in Long Beach; Barnes and Noble.com; BakerandTaylor.com; Amazon.com; and The LatinoAuthor.com.
A hairstylist since 1999, Maricel says that she's done writing about her family.
"That's it," she says. "My next book will be a book of fiction."
Published: November 22, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 32