After my post about matching My Spotify “On Repeat” with my TBR, I kind of fell in love with the idea of matching books with arbitrary items. Thus, I am back with matching East Asian snack foods to books!
Plus, I get to share all my controversial opinions on some of these snacks, hehe! (White Rabbit can leave. That stuff is disgusting. Sue me.)
This list is composed entirely of Asian-authored works. Although the snacks are mostly East Asian, I didn’t limit the novels to East-Asian authors, so there’s a wide variety here, among all age categories! Some are anticipated reads, some are ones I’ve already read, some aren’t out till next year, but I get matching vibes from all of them!
Chocolate Pocky + Legend by Marie Lu
A truly original & iconic East Asian snack! (Strawberry is okay, but chocolate is my one true love.)
Naturally, I had to match this with an equally iconic author, so I’m going to say Chocolate Pocky goes with Marie Lu’s Legend series! Which, admittedly, is the only books of hers I haven’t read yet. sweats nervously
But seriously! Legend is truly a figure in YA literature, and Marie Lu is one of the first Asian authors I ever read. I’ll get to her debut series . . . eventually, but until then, I’m just going to continue to silently scream over how much I love Skyhunter and all of her other works.
Chocolate Koala’s March + Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan
Clearly superior to Hello Panda. Koala’s March has smoother, creamier chocolate, a crisper cookie, and their pictures don’t smudge. The Hello Panda images on the cookies always smudge. Smh.
Maybe there’s a connection in my brain between counting and marching. Maybe it’s because you don’t want to stop (fake dating someone or) eating Koala’s March once you’ve started. Maybe it’s because, as a part of the Tashie Bhuiyan fan club, I feel obligated to match one of the best snacks on the list to Tashie’s book.
Either way, I’ve paired Koala’s March with Counting Down With You! There’s fake dating the school’s resident bad boy, strict parents (who are abroad in Bangladesh for four weeks!), and a teensy little lie that might just become reality. I am so excited for this in 2021. Wake me up when it’s release day, please.
Lychee Jelly Cup + The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Naturally, lychee is the superior flavor of jelly cup. I accept no criticism.
But also, every time I eat a lychee cup, a small, tiny amount of fear seeps into my brain when I shove it all in my mouth without biting it. What if I choke and need the Heimlich maneuver, all because I refused to follow the directions and eat the lychee cup in reasonable bites?
The same fear I have of lychee cups, I also have of The Poppy War. (Okay, maybe not choking and dying, per se, but general fear of concept.) I am both extremely excited and fearful of The Poppy War, a healthy combination.
Like, I’ve had an ARC since the year it came out. And now that the trilogy is done, I suppose I should get over my fear and jump in. But also oooh scary. We will see how it goes one day!
Chocolate Strawberry Yan Yan + The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
Chocolate Yan Yan is good. Strawberry Yan Yan is good. We do not speak of Vanilla Yan Yan. And Chocolate Strawberry Yan Yan, is the best. Yes, the chocolate and the strawberry might compete for your taste buds’ attention (like Nishat and Flávia are competing for your money and attention through their opposing henna shops!), but ultimately, they’re perfect together.
This balance and push and pull is something we absolutely see in Jaigirdar’s sweet, YA romance debut. Nishat and Flávia are absolutely at odds—there are mixed signals, and sometimes you’re confused if she’s your friend or your enemy? But ultimately, there’s a satisfying conclusion! I really enjoyed this romance & I’d definitely recommend both it and Chocolate Strawberry Yan Yan!
Spicy Rice Cracker Trail Mix + These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Naturally, I had to pair the only spicy snack on this list with These Violent Delights, a spicy debut set in 1920s Shanghai ft. monsters and Romeo & Juliet rival gangs!
I’m truly so so excited for These Violent Delights and to read my ARC this month! I’ve heard so many rave reviews from friends, and Chloe is such a delight that I know her book is going to be fantastic. I’m so read for the adventure and romance, and maybe just a tiny bit scared about the whole “tragedy” part of Romeo and Juliet. Chloe wouldn’t do that . . . right?
Chocolate Layer Wafers + The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
Chocolate is my favorite flavor, so naturally I like my layered wafer cookies in chocolate flavor too! (Although taro and strawberry are not objectionable!)
And like how layer wafers have, well, layers, Nafiza Azad’s The Candle and the Flame is a richly layered YA fantasy (that I like to think of as crossover fiction!). There is political intrigue, sweeping magic systems, and a fierce protagonist. We get a Silk-Road inspired story with a beautiful and diverse array of cultural influences. I absolutely adore this novel and I’m truly so excited for Azad’s next standalone (The Wild Ones: A Broken Anthem for a Girl Nation) in 2021!
Original Broad Beans + Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe
Some of the best things are simple.
Original Broad Beans, for one, are best simple & in moderation. Yes, there are garlic versions (and garlic is so delicious!), but there’s something delightful about a nutty, roasted broad bean with a sprinkling of salt.
And Eva Evergreen only has a pinch of magic. But why make things complicated? I’m really excited to read about Eva, semi-magical witch, and how she helps the coastal town of Auteri through her semi-magical fixes & repair shop in Julia Abe’s charming middle grade debut. It sounds absolutely lovely!
Lemon-Orange Cookies + The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
I realize “lemon-orange cookies” could be a number of things, but I’m referring to the sandwich cookie of two biscuits and a citrusy cream in between. This is one of those you-know-it-when-you-see-it shopping situations for me 😅.
Nonetheless, I love the contrast of the tangy sweet citrus cream against the sugared biscuit. And Hanna’s The Weight of Our Sky is another delightfully complex thing. There’s this rich contrast of the urgency, physically manifested in the burning of Kuala Lumpur, as well as the emotional parts of the story that take on soft undertones in the quieter moments. It’s a truly masterful 24-hour novel, and I’ll always yell about how much I love Hanna’s writing.
Shrimp Crackers + Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena
I almost never buy cooked shrimp crackers for myself (I always steal my friends’ or I buy the ones you need to fry yourself), but I do love this snack a lot! The shrimp is a nice sweet to the salt on the crackers! They are dramatically crunchy and a very addictive snack.
I don’t have a good reason for pairing it with Hunted by the Sky, but if I had to make one up, I would say that both are an adventure for your taste buds and mind, respectively. Heh. (But Hunted by the Sky sounds so good and I have a library copy!! I can’t wait for the high-stakes and dramatic romance and class struggles! Eep!)
Chocolate Cookies + Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon
“Chocolate cookies” is also another really vague description, but similar to the Lemon-Orange Cookies, these are chocolate biscuits with chocolate cream in between. They may even be made by the same brand?
Either way, I adored Lily Menon’s (who you probably know as Sandhya Menon!) adult romance debut, Make Up Break Up! I love her YA romances so so much, and this story was rich-as-chocolate, with delightfully layered characters. It’s a rival-to-lovers story feat. app developers (with very different apps) and a lot of tension between them!
Pandan Cookie Roll + Lunar Boy by Jessica & Jacinta Wibowo
Naturally, I had to match the pandan cookie roll with one of the first traditionally published Indonesian stories! (Technically pandan is Southeast Asian, but shhh we find these cookies all the time at the East Asian grocery in coconut flavor also!)
The Wibowo twins’ queer middle grade graphic novel is far, far away (2023—cry), but I’m already so hyped. It’s about a boy from the moon who goes through a cultural shock, family struggles, and first crushes when he moves to Earth. And the twins’ art is so gorgeous, I know this is going to be stunning.
Kasugai Gummy Candy + Caster by Elsie Chapman
The Kasugai gummy candy (all flavors are decent, but lychee is obviously a great choice) is a burst of flavor and excitement in one bite. Caster is similar in its magic system—earth-shaking and extremely powerful with one small star on your hand.
But unlike the joy of the Kasugai gummy candy, Caster has a little bit more to be wary of, notably the environmental effects of the magic and how using magic is outlawed for its steep costs to the world. Nonetheless, Aza Wu uses the real magic to pay off her family’s debt to the gang leader of her sector, and gets involved in a magic competition and a highly-dangerous and illegal line of work. This urban dystopian novel is thrilling and dark, and a fantastic read.
Mochi + Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Mochi comes in such a diverse array of flavors and types and shapes. Ice cream, or just room temperature. Red bean or black sesame or peanut. There’s almost always something exciting hiding under the chewy skin.
And like the deep secrets of mochi, Mia Tang from Kelly Yang’s Front Desk also has a lot of secrets. Living in a motel while her parents hide immigrants in the empty rooms, against the wishes of the motel owner. Wanting to write, even though her mother disproves. This emotional and charming middle grade sounds so fantastic, and I’m truly so excited to read it one day!
Sweet & Savory Rice Cracker + Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon
Looks can be deceiving. Sometimes you’re walking through the snack aisle and you really want the rice cracker that’s sweet with just a tiny savory undertone. But you’re looking at the rice crackers, and ultimately, you can’t tell the difference between the sweet & savory ones, and the plain salty ones. It’s truly a terrible position to be in.
Speaking of terrible positions and decisions, it also sounds like a bad decision to coerce your two nerdy best friends into a rock band in order to impress a girl you may or may not have lied to about said rock band. Which is exactly what Sunny Dae does in Super Fake Love Song.
But hey! Sunny’s story is still absolutely engrossing and full of silliness and Yoon-style nerdiness, even with the deep pit of dread that pools in your stomach while you wait for his secret to be revealed. Yeah, you might feel a lot of second-hand nervousness, but ultimately, Super Fake Love Song is a rom-com about family, romance, and what it means to be yourself that I’d definitely recommend.
Haw Flakes + The Shaadi Scam by Lillie Vale
Second chances? Heck yeah.
I haven’t always liked Haw Flakes, but the sweet and sour flavor has admittedly grown on me, after I gave it a second chance. I like eating them as a sort of palette cleanser, or a quick burst of sugar when I need some energy.
And continuing with the theme of second chances, I’ve chosen Lillie Vale’s The Shaadi Scam to go with it! This second chance romance, where a matchmaking website matches the female main character not with her boyfriend, but with the man who broke her heart. Lillie’s writing has been a long, long time favorite of mine, from before her YA debut Small Town Hearts, and I’m so excited to read her adult romance novels that come our way!
Almond Cookies + Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim
Almond cookies are another classic snack, with the almond slice squished in the center and that flaky, crumbly cookie underneath.
I think almost any sort of pastry would have worked well with the absolutely delicious stories from Roselle Lim. Lim does an amazing job of weaving mouth-watering foods with a poignant story of family and subtle romance and the threads of fate. I adore her writing so much and I can’t wait for the future stories we get from Lim.
Your thoughts on these snacks & pairings? What snacks did I miss?
This post originally debuted on Patreon on October 6th, 2020.