Some book clubs like to chat about books over wine. Others prefer coffee, tea, or boba (like yours truly), but what about snacks? Some of our favorite reads have had the most mouthwatering food descriptions that have left us with the worst cravings. So, we thought it would be fun to pair some Asian snacks with books written by Asian authors. Check out our spread!
Sakura Mochi – I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
How could we not pair mochi with Sarah Kuhn’s sweet travelogue rom-com? The word “mochi” is in the title. Since the book is set in Kyoto, which is famous for their traditional sweets and their cherry blossom viewing, we thought a sakura mochi would be a perfect snack match. There’s even a costumed mochi mascot in the book.
Coconut Jelly Cube – A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
A twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, Christina Soontornvat’s middle grade novel is set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world and is loaded with delicious descriptions of Thai food. Coconut milk is an essential ingredient in Thai cooking and that includes desserts. Light and refreshing, coconut agar agar cubes make popular summer treats. Soontornvat actually shared her personal recipe on BookPeople’s blog in case you want to try making these aesthetically pleasing cubes.
Pineapple Cake – Love Boat Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
No trip to Taipei would be complete without eating a pineapple cake. Pineapple cake is arguably the most popular Taiwanese pastry, as they’re sold at airports, convenience stores, and even gifted as complimentary treats by hotels. Since Love Boat Taipei follows a group of teens attending a summer camp in the capital to get in touch with their Taiwanese roots (and party without parental supervision), pineapple cakes seemed like a good fit.
Chaat – Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi
Not to be mistaken with a quick conversation, chaat is a savory Indian snack that is a mixture of fried dough, potato pieces, chickpeas, chopped onions, yogurt sauce, and several other variants. Chaats are eaten all across India, and every region has its own specialties. You’ll find our hero Aru munching on chaat in this second installment of the Pandava Quartet series.
Choko Choko – Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
Choko Choko is a favorite childhood sweet amongst Filipinos. It’s melted chocolate on a stick, enough said. Patron Saints of Nothing follows Jay Reguero, a Filipino American teen who travels to the Philippines after his cousin Jun is murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs. One fond memory Jay recounts is the night his cousin bought every kind of Filipino snack for him to try. Choko Choko was Jun’s favorite.
Tokhmeh – Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
In the words of Darius the Great, tokhmeh—roasted seeds seasoned with lime or salt—are the “favorite snack of True Persians everywhere.” Some of the most popular types of tokhmeh are watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Nutritious and crunchy, tokhmeh are common snacks for watching soccer games, which is another one of Iran’s longtime passions.
Banana Kick – Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Based on the color palettes alone, Banana Kick and Frankly in Love make a compatible pair. Made in 1978, Banana Kick is a classic Korean snack with a sweet taste of banana that melts in your mouth. For older Asian American readers, Frank’s struggles—the fear of disappointing his immigrant parents, the frustration of navigating his cultural identity, and the sadness of saying goodbye to high school friends before heading to college—will feel nostalgic, just like the taste of Banana Kick.
What are your favorite Asian snacks? If you have your own book and snack pairings you’d like to recommend, please share in the comments below.