In the Green Room

Writer Claudia Kolker

I’ll Have Anything But That Tofu

Claudia Kolker is the author of The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness, and Hope; currently she is also a contributing editor at the Houston Chronicle, where she created the immigrant affairs beat in 1997. Before moderating a discussion on Houston’s future after immigration reform, she revealed her distaste for fermented tofu, her cheerleading for 8-year-old girls, and her longing to see the Grateful Dead in the Zócalo green room.

Q:
What literary character do you identify with?

A:
Harriet the Spy.

Q:
What food won’t you eat?

A:
There’s a terrible form of tofu that is fermented, and it was one of the first experiences of my life, when I had that once in a little cube in Japan. But other than that, everything.

Q:
What inspires you?

A:
Green plants, immigrants, people overcoming adversity, preschoolers sitting at a table and coloring and being creative, dogs of all kinds, always. That’s a long list. A lot of stuff. [Laughs.]

Q:
What country have you reported from that you’re least likely to return to?

A:
Maybe Venezuela, but that’s a tough one. I’d like to return to all of them. Venezuela, probably my work is least likely to take me there.

Q:
What’s the last habit you tried to kick?

A:
Sugar, every day, this morning.

Q:
What live performance would you most like to see next?

A:
I’d love to see the Grateful Dead, I never saw them, and now I regret it.

Q:
What profession would you like to practice in your next life?

A:
A doctor.

Q:
Who or what do you root for?

A:
I root for moms in developing countries with tons of kids who are managing the finances and scrimping and saving and making things happen. And little girls. Eight-year-old girls, actually, specifically.

Q:
How do you deal with writer’s block?

A:
Walking. I learned from a writer friend who’s also an athlete, never even try to write until you’re physically tired.

Q:
How did you get into trouble as a kid?

A:
Let me count the ways! I proposed that my friend Maggie and I play catch with a dozen raw eggs in her driveway when I was in second grade, and I was not asked back.