YA Friday: Think Thanksgiving is over? You ain’t seen stuffing yet

Pumpkin pie with whipped cream
Thanks to the Internet I now know that the whipped cream in this picture is actually shaving cream.

Books That Make Your Mouth Water

My memory is directly connected to my stomach.

I always remember a book best because of the food in it. When I think of To All The Boys I Love Before I begin to crave cookies and cupcakes. When I read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda I went out and bought Oreos and after reading Strange The Dreamer I wanted cake. So much delicious cake. And I always re-read Anna and the French Kiss right around Girl Scout Cookie season.

Food is pleasure mixed with need and it can be fascinating when featured in novel. It can also really connect us to a story. Like, no, I haven’t been to space, but I have eaten a sandwich and I can relate to that experience. Introduce me to a far-away fantasy world and I have a ton of questions, but you can answer almost all of them with food, such as setting, wealth, holidays, and culture. Food in books makes them relatable and makes us feel all the feelings.

So while you may still be full from your Thanksgiving meal, make sure to read the books below on an empty stomach because they will make you hungry.

North of Happy book cover

North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

Mexico City native Carlos Portillo always looked up to his older brother, Felix, who shared his passion for food and did things his own way, rather than follow in their wealthy father’s path. Now Felix is dead, but Carlos still feels his presence, urging him to leave home and follow his dreams, instead of doing a summer internship with his father then attending college in America. On a whim, Carlos runs away to Seattle and takes a job as a dishwasher at a renowned restaurant. Carlos is determined to prove his culinary skills to his boss, but trouble brews when he falls for the chef’s daughter, Emma, and is told that if he dates her he’ll be fired. Each chapter is prefaced with a recipe.

The Art of French Kissing book cover
The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum

Carter Lane is one step closer to her dream of attending the nation's top culinary school when she is accepted into its prestigious summer scholarship competition, but arrogant and handsome Reid Yamada isn't going to make winning easy. In fact, he is deliberately sabotaging Carter's dishes—but two can play at that game. Carter, who is Irish-American, and Reid, who is biracial (Japanese/white), have their sights trained on one another as competitors begin to be eliminated. But an obsession that starts out as revenge soon turns romantic when the two are paired up and must work together to win it all.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen book cover

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe-- many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions.

Stay Sweet book cover

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

For the past four summers, Amelia has worked at the all-women owned and operated local ice cream stand, whose history began in 1944 when Molly Meade started making ice cream as a way to cheer up her heartbroken friends whose loves were away at war. Looking forward to her last summer as "Head Girl" of the stand with her best friend Cate, her plans are dashed when Molly dies in the beginning of the summer. With the potential of the stand closing, Molly's grandnephew steps in to run the business with Amelia's help. Running into some trouble with the stand and her best friend throughout the summer helps Amelia find herself and teaches her to go after what she wants.

The Summer of Jordi Perez and the Best Burger in Los Angeles book cover

The Summer of Jordi Perez and the Best Burger in Los Angeles by Amy Spalding

Pink-haired Abby Ives, age 17, has landed an internship at Lemonberry, a small store that includes plus-sizes in its snazzy, creative clothing designs. Abby runs her own plus-size fashion blog and is serious about a career in the industry, but her personal life is in less good shape: She's never kissed a girl and worries she never will. Along comes Jordi Perez, photographer and unexpected co-intern at Lemonberry, who falls hard for Abby's adorably awkward, chatty, gorgeous self. Their blissfully heady romance is a balm to Abby's insecurities about being fat. Her mom, a food blogger who substitutes mashed cauliflower for hamburger buns and nutritional yeast for cheese, believes she needs to lose weight if she wants to lead a happy life and be pretty—but Abby has already achieved both.

Love a la Mode book cover

Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Henry’s dying to prove to his strict Korean mother that he can hack it in the world of fine cooking. Rosie’s hungry to see a world outside of tiny East Liberty, Ohio, and she thinks her pastry skills might be just the trick. Sound like a recipe for sparks? It sure is: after their transatlantic meet-cute on the flight to culinary school in Paris, they seem destined for a sweet end. But when the pressure of their high-stakes program makes Henry distant and a fellow pastry chef sets his sights on Rosie, their fledgling romance starts to sour.

Further Reading

Strange the Dreamer book coverTell Me Three Things book coverLove & Gelato book coverTo All The Boys I've Loved Before book coverAnna and the French Kiss book coverSimon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda book cover