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I love eating! To me, food is a comfort, and it’s maybe a blessing and a tragedy that I seem to plan everything in my daily routine around meals. When I go on vacation, I wake up thinking about the plan for the day, and when and where we are going to stop for eating. If my travel companions start making plans that seem to forget the fact that we need to eat, I get very confused. We can’t go on a city trip from 10am to 3pm without any plans of stopping for a good meal in between!
Sometimes I may forget I am hungry if I am focused on a task, but you may be sure that even before I started the task I was worrying about breakfast, morning snack, lunch, dessert, afternoon snack, dinner, dessert, and supper.
It is, therefore, not a surprise that one of the reasons I get excited about vacations is because of all the (new) food I get to eat without having to cook — and without feeling guilty about eating out for a whole week, since I usually count the meals in my vacation budget. When people ask, “How rich would you like to be?,” my reply is invariably the same: rich enough that I could eat out or order in for pretty much every meal. That’s what I wake up to work for every day.
Now that you understand my love for food, you understand why I am so excited when I see recipes in books where I do not expect to find them.
Even though I am not an amateur chef, nor do I particularly like cooking, I always think that adding a recipe (or a couple) to a book is a way for the author to offer us a little bit of themselves, to present us with a gift. “Here,” they say, “I loved this recipe, and I think it would be nice for you to have it too.”
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So I went in search of novelss with recipes in them, and this is what I found. In them you will stumble upon great stories…and great recipes.
Arsenic And Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
A fun — and funny — cosy murder mystery, Arsenic And Adobo starts with Lila Macapagal’s return to her small hometown after a break-up.
Lila is trying to help save her aunt’s failing restaurant, but things take a weird turn when the town’s food critic — and a nasty one at that — falls dead during a meal at the family’s restaurant.
Now Lila has to find a way to prove no one in her family was in on the murder, all the while figuring out what she truly wants in life.
Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond
Amy is a semi-closeted baker who gets fired from her job at a Christian bakery.
Inspired by rom-coms, she decides to take the plunge and turn her one-off subbing gig as a bridesmaid into a business. But her people-pleasing personality and her desire to become her true self don’t always make life easy for Amy and those around her.
This is a great book for those looking for a story about found family, written by our own Book Rioter, Susie Dumond.
Magic, Lies, And Deadly Pies by Misha Popp
Now, this is a book I can back up for the blurb alone: “Daisy Ellery’s pies have a secret ingredient: the magical ability to avenge women done wrong by men.” I mean, I’m sold.
As the book develops, we find out that the first time Daisy killed a man, it was accidental. But she quickly turned that into a calling.
If you’re looking for a fun book with a witty main character and a faithful dog as companion, you will want to read this. Especially because, for better or worse, things do start taking a turn.
Come for the recipes, stay for the sweet, sweet revenge.
Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
This is a classic, which went as far as being turned into a movie, and there’s a reason for that: Esquivel’s prose is beautiful, and the story creates a mysterious, charming atmosphere.
This is the story of the family La Garza, and about Tita, the youngest girl in the family, condemned by tradition to not marry and take care of her mother until she dies.
But when Tita falls in love with Pedro, they will have to find a way to each other.
With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Emoni Santiago is trying to juggle what life throws at her, doing her best to stay afloat.
In the kitchen, among the pans and the food she cooks, is where she finds the most comfort.
She knows that her financial and personal situation shouldn’t allow her to dream of a new culinary arts class at her school, or her class’s trip to Spain, but although Emoni can fight against a lot of things, her love and gift for cooking isn’t one of them.
Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
I watched this movie many, many years ago, without realising that it was also a book.
This is another story about beginnings and about finding oneself, with the main restoration work at the centre of the book being more than external work — but becoming an internal job of reparation for the main character as well.
This book offers the reader a lovely glimpse into life, traditions, and cuisine of Tuscany.
Although I haven’t read all of her books, apparently all of them contain recipes.
The Heartbreak Bakery by A. R. Capetta
Baking can be a way to deal with life, and it certainly is for this book’s main character, Syd.
But after Syd, a baker at a queer bakery and community called Proud Muffin, experiences a break-up, everyone who eats Syd’s brownies…ends up breaking up.
Trouble really hits when even the owners of Proud Muffin, Vic and Alec, break up as well, putting the bakery — and Syd’s own baking — at stake.
Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi
Butter Honey Pig Bread is the story of three Nigerian women: a mother and her twin daughters.
They become estranged from one another after one of the twins experiences childhood trauma, and the other ends up finding some respite from her loneliness through food and cooking.
After more than a decade apart, they all return to their home of Lagos, Nigeria, to try and heal the wounds from the past together.
Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
This is another book that has been adapted into a movie, with strong female friendships at the centre of the plot.
With middle-aged protagonists and a strong bond between present and past, it contains flashbacks to the ’30s, when two women ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama.
Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake by Alexis Hall
Rosaline dropped out of college to raise her daughter, and with big dreams set aside and a small paycheck, she can see economic disaster approaching at a daunting pace.
She lands a spot in one of the nation’s most beloved baking shows, and she is determined to follow the rules, win, and give her daughter a better chance at life.
But as romance starts brewing between the cakes, Rosaline has tough decisions to make — and she has to keep her eyes on the ball…I mean, the baking.
Death By Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow
There seems to be an obvious connection between cosy murder mysteries and food, and in Death By Bubble Tea we see that happen again.
Yale and Celine are cousins who haven’t seen each other in 20 years. When Celine travels from Hong Kong to visit, Yale’s father encourages them to create a food stall at the local night market.
The stall is actually a success until one of their clients shows up dead. Now the cousins are the primary suspects, and they need to work together if they want to clear up their names and remain free.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Rachel, our main character, writes cookbooks. She is also seven months pregnant when she finds out that her husband is in love with another woman.
Between wanting to get her husband back, and wanting him dead, Rachel serves the reader with some of her favourite recipes.
A delight of a novel.
Can’t get enough of this? Feast on this roundup of YA novels with recipes, too.