Today I’m celebrating another day of Latinx Heritage Month by celebrating books by latinx authors that celebrate food.
On each of the books in this list, food is not only a major part of the plot but it’s almost like a main character. These books are perfect for anyone who loves food and wants to be supremely hungry or get some amazing recipes from these reads.
1-With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo
With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
This is a personal fave, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gushed about this book, every word of this book is magic and the recipes will have your mouth watering.
2- North of Happy by Adi Alsaid
His whole life has been mapped out for him…
Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the US, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.
When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Worrying about his mental health, but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.
I’ve recommended this book before because while it touched on many issues such as grief and coping with loss, but filling with recipes, first love and hope.
3- A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos
Lumi Santana is a chef with a gift: she can perceive a person’s emotions by tasting their cooking. Despite being raised by a mother who taught her that dreams and true love were silly fairy tales, she puts her heart and savings into opening her own fusion restaurant in Upper Manhattan. The restaurant offers a mix of the Dominican cuisine she grew up with and other world cuisines she is inspired by.
When her eclectic venture fails, she is forced to take a position as sous chef at a staid, traditional French restaurant owned by Julien Dax, a celebrated chef known for his acid tongue as well as his brilliant smile. After he goes out of his way to bake a tart to prove her wrong in a dispute, she is so irritated by his smug attitude that she vows to herself never to taste his cooking.
But after she succumbs to the temptation and takes a bite one day and is overcome with shocking emotion, she finds herself beginning to crave his cooking and struggling to stay on task with her plan to save up and move on as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Julien’s obsessed secretary watches with gnashed teeth as they grow closer and becomes determined to get Lumi out of her way permanently.
My longer review will be upcoming but this book was a joy to read, the food, the romance, it has it all!
4- Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera
Kiskeya Burgos left the tropical beaches of the Dominican Republic with a lot to prove. As a pastry chef on the come up, when she arrives in Scotland, she has one goal in mind: win the Holiday Baking Challenge. Winning is her opportunity to prove to her family, her former boss, and most importantly herself, she can make it in the culinary world. Kiskeya will stop at nothing to win , that is, if she can keep her eyes on the prize and off her infuriating teammate’s perfect lips.
Sully Morales, home cooking hustler, and self-proclaimed baking brujita lands in Scotland on a quest to find her purpose after spending years as her family’s caregiver. But now, with her home life back on track, it’s time for Sully to get reacquainted with her greatest love, baking. Winning the Holiday Baking Challenge is a no brainer if she can convince her grumpy AF baking partner that they make a great team both in and out of the kitchen before an unexpected betrayal ends their chance to attain culinary competition glory.
It was hard picking between this one or American Dreamer as they both have food as a main focus, but this time, the lovely Dominican infused recipes and this sweet/sexy romance between two Dominican women gets the vote!
5- Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.
But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.
As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?
Another personal fave, Don’t Date Rosa Santos is filled with magic, curse and also food and love, by magic i don’t mean actual magic but it is a magical read where food is so present and a way to showcase love and family.
6- The Resolutions by Mia Garcia
New Years are for fresh starts, but Jess just wants everything to go back to the way it was.
From hiking trips, to four-person birthday parties, to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable—and unstoppable. But now, with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been splintering off and growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.
Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them for each other—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, show your paintings, learn Spanish, say yes to everything.
But not even the best laid plans can take into account the uncertainties of life. As the year unfolds, Jess, Ryan, Nora, and Lee each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heart breaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.
This book has many main characters and changing POV’s, I want to highlight this book as one character specially her story is very much about food and her connection to food.
7- Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble (Love Sugar Magic series) by Anna Meriano
Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.
Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.
Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.
And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?
I’ve mentioned magic a lot, but this book is about actual magical abilities and food, it’s such a sweet book and the whole series follows the same magical, lovely feel of the first book.
8- Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas
Seventeen-year-old aspiring chef Isabella Fields’ family life has fallen apart after the death of her Cuban abuela and the divorce of her parents. She moves in with her dad and his new wife in France, where Isabella feels like an outsider in her father’s new life, studiously avoiding the awkward, “Why did you cheat on Mom?” conversation.
The upside of Isabella’s world being turned upside down? Her father’s house is located only 30 minutes away from the restaurant of world-famous Chef Pascal Grattard, who runs a prestigious and competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isabella, who is desperate to get her life back in order.
But how can Isabella expect to hold it together when she’s at the bottom of her class at the apprenticeship, her new stepmom is pregnant, she misses her abuela dearly, and a mysterious new guy and his albino dog fall into her life?
I have to admit this is a book I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read, all I’ve heard about it is how much of a delight it is for foodies.
9- Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate #1) by Laura Esquivel
The narrator’s great-aunt Tita is the youngest of three daughters born to Mama Elena, the tyrannical owner of De la Garza ranch. While still in her mother’s womb, she wept so violently–as her mother chopped onions–that she caused Mama Elena to begin early labor, and Tita slipped out in the middle of the kitchen table, amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon became a way of life, and Tita grew up to be a master chef. Each chapter of the novel begins with one of Tita’s recipes and her careful instructions for preparation.
In well-born Mexican families, tradition dictates that the youngest daughter not marry, but remain at home to care for her mother. Even though Tita has fallen in love, Mama Elena chooses not to make an exception, and instead, arranges for Tita’s older sister to marry Tita’s young man.
In order to punish Tita for her willfulness, Mama Elena forces her to bake the wedding cake. The bitter tears Tita weeps while stirring the batter provoke a remarkable reaction among the guests who eat the cake. It is then that it first becomes apparent that her culinary talents are unique.
The classic and much loved magical realist story of passionate repressed love and food, this is one I would be cheating myself if I didn’t include.
10- A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey (Nov. 10th, 2020)
Teenage master of Cuban cuisine, Lila Reyes, is eager to inherit her family’s Miami bakery along with her sister, Pilar. But between spring and graduation, Lila’s abuela dies, her best friend abandons her, and her long-time boyfriend dumps her. Fearing Lila’s emotional health, her parents defy her wishes and entrust her summer to family and their Winchester, England inn. Even though she’s given a space to cook at the inn, she longs for Miami, the seat of her Cuban roots. Being a Miami Cuban baker is her glorified past and destined future, forged by years of training by her loving abuela.
Days into her stay, Orion Maxwell barges into Lila’s inn kitchen with a delivery from his family’s tea shop. A nuisance at first, opposite ingredients soon learn to blend. Orion befriends Lila, introducing her to his mates and devouring her food––comida Cubana.
Orion entertains her with his mental collection of superstitions and sweeps her onto his vintage motorbike. He wraps cold, underdressed Lila in his wool cardigan and becomes her personal tour guide. His mum’s early-onset (FTD) Dementia gives Orion a unique outlook––he never asks too much of the world, accepting what he can’t control. Lila soon discovers this British boy brings empathy to her loss because he’s living his own.
Before long, Lila can’t control the route of her own heart as she begins to fall for more than a new love. England has charmed her. And a special opportunity in London tempts her. As her return ticket looms, Lila feels impossibly caught between two flags. Hearts aren’t supposed to split like this––between a beautiful boy and a beautiful family. Between exploring an uncharted future in a rich new place, and honoring Abuela’s treasured legacy.
I can’t wait for this book to be released, just by the blurb I’m already charmed, I mean Cuban food, baking and England as a setting, which as I’m forever fond of reading stories about characters that I can relate to as a Latinx living in the UK.
How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love With the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (2021)
Have you read any of these books, what did you think? Did you think I missed any lovely foodie books?
Next Latinx Heritage Month Post will be a review of Historically Inaccurate by Shay Bravo.
I hope you’re enjoying LHM so far!