YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA HOW EXCITED AND OVER THE MOON I WAS WHEN I WAS INVITED TO BE A PART OF THE HUNGRY HEARTS FOOD CRAWL!
Before I dive into my review of Elsie Chapman’s incredibly gripping story, Kings and Queens and why I enjoyed it so much, here’s what you should know about Hungry Hearts! But first.. let me give massive thanks for the co-hosts of the blog tour, the wonderful Vicky of Vicky Who Reads (be sure to check out Vicky’s kickoff post where she interviewed the editors of the anthology, Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond) and my eternal Kiwi sunshine, CW of The Quiet Pond, for not only organising this food crawl to unite us foodies but also for sponsoring the international giveaway. From the bottom of my dim sum-loving heart, xie xie!
Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love edited by Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Jun 18, 2019)
Blurb from Goodreads:
From some of your favorite bestselling and critically acclaimed authors—including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco—comes a collection of interconnected short stories that explore the intersection of family, culture, and food in the lives of thirteen teens.
A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.
Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.
Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.
Ta-da! The time has come for me to write about my thoughts on the short story I chose from the anthology collection. Drumroll, please. You’re all probably on tenterhooks, waiting for me to reveal which story I chose, huh? Wait, I already mentioned it above. Way to go, Kevin. But anyway, here goes! I chose…
KINGS AND QUEENS BY ELSIE CHAPMAN!
Kings and Queens follows the story of Ming, a teenage girl who works at her family’s Chinese restaurant called Emperor’s Way on Hungry Heart Row. Sure, they might seem like your usual family-operated business which locals just seem to love their food for its comforting and familiar tastes and its homely charm, but the
soup plot thickens. Ming and her family are actually part of the Kings and Queens, one of the Chinese gangs in the neighbourhood and when someone calls for takeout. They legit, have to take someone out.
Before going into Elsie Chapman’s short story, I had no expectations on what’s
on the menu in store for me. Little did I know, it would be a story that’s centred on the familial ties and nuanced relationships in a not-so typical Chinese family that’s bound by blood and their love for food.
Oh, Guanyin Ma. The food. The descriptions of food in Elsie’s story made my heart swell with love (and hunger). My mouth watered, just thinking of all the delicious goodies and snacks and delicacies that reminded me of my mum’s and grandmother’s cooking and home.
I adored how Elsie wrote the story from Ming’s perspective where every single morsel of food has a connection to her and her family’s past. Like the macaroni soup her mum made for her and her siblings, Yun and Lei. Kings and Queens also offers an intimate glimpse into the meaning of food for us Chinese and how every single ingredient symbolises something in our culture and traditions.
There will be no roasted pig to symbolise purity. No bright red lobster for luck. No shark fin soup for wealth.
Another thing that I’d like to point out was the subtle way of how love and care are shown among Asian families. Personally, I could relate to how fussing over your siblings or your parents cooking you your favourite dish whenever you’re back in your hometown for the weekend, is showing your love for them. Though we aren’t exactly huge fans of public displays of affections and saying “I love you” to each other, we show our love through small, subtle ways and it made me think of how I could see myself and my family in Ming’s family.
So, I’d like to thank Elsie Chapman for writing this story that touched my heart and made me feel seen.
Okay, so I don’t mean to do this here, but since we’re here for an anthology that features food around the world, I’d like to share with you my favourite home-cooked dishes and one particular one that was featured in the story!
I don’t know what this dish is officially called but it’s minced pork and cubes of potatoes and carrots cooked in gravy. It’s similar to the Filipino’s giniling, which is a pork stew! It’s one of my favourites and it makes me so happy whenever my mum decides to cook it for me whenever I am back home on weekends. Such a comfort food and it’s just so good.
Okay, this is another one that I can’t really name? But it’s basically stir fried jicama with shredded carrots and slices of pork belly. It’s similar to the Nyonya dish called jiu hu char but instead of cuttlefish, it’s cooked with pork aka my ultimate fave. My mum learned this recipe from my late paternal grandmother and it’s a favourite of mine and my brother’s.
This is not exactly a Chinese dish, it’s a Malaysian dish but my mum does make a mean (and incredibly delicious) sambal petai. In case you’re wondering, those green beans are called petai, also known as stink beans or bitter beans and it’s an acquired taste, just like durian! But if I’ve grown to love it, especially when it’s cooked in sambal and prawns (and sometimes calamari).
A childhood favourite of mine: lap cheong! And guess what? This dish was featured in Elsie Chapman’s Kings and Queens and it inspired me to do this post on my favourite dishes! This is one of the simplest dishes in Chinese cuisine because you just have steam these Chinese sausages and with arrowroot and they are good to go. Sweet and salty, I once told my maternal grandmother that I would eat lap cheong every day for the rest of my life if I could. Crazy, wasn’t I? I was 5.
So, here are some of my favourite dishes growing up and they still are firm favourites of mine today! (I have more to share but I’d rather have you over for dinner and attempt to cook some of my favourites for you!) I’d love to know if these are your favourites or if you’ve tried them and liked them! I am totally down to talk about food, people!
Elsie Chapman grew up in Prince George, Canada, and has a degree in English literature from the University of British Columbia. She is the author of the YA novels Dualed, Divided, Along the Indigo, and Caster as well as the MG novel All the Ways Home, and co-editor of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and Hungry Hearts. She currently lives in Tokyo, Japan, with her family.
Caroline Tung Richmond is an award-winning young adult author, whose historical novels include The Only Thing to Fear, The Darkest Hour, and Live In Infamy. She’s also the co-editor of the anthology Hungry Hearts, which features stories about food and will come out in June 2019 from Simon Pulse. Her work is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich.
Caroline is also the Program Director of We Need Diverse Books, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that advocates for diversity in children’s publishing.
After growing up in the Washington, D.C. area Caroline now lives in Virginia with her family.
Massive thanks to the lovely Vicky and CW for sponsoring this giveaway! They will be giving away 2 copies of Hungry Hearts to one international reader and one reader in the US. Click on the Rafflecopter image below to join and further information on the giveaway rules.
Disclaimer: International is defined as anywhere Book Depository ships.
June 10th – Introduction
Vicky (Welcome + Interview)
June 11th – Karuna Riazi
June 13th – Jay Coles
Nikki (Review + Creative Post)
June 15th – Sara Farizan
June 17th – Adi Alsaid
Moon (Review + Creative Post)
June 19th – S. K. Ali
Mish (Review + Creative Post)
June 20th – Phoebe North
Kayla (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board)
June 23rd – Anna-Marie McLemore
Nox (Review + Creative Post)
June 24th – Closing
CW (Review + Food Crawl)
Check out the other blogs that are a part of the Hungry Hearts Food Crawl, you won’t regret it! So much love for these bloggers.