Food and Book Pairing: A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen

The Book:

  • Title: A Taste for Love
  • Author: Jennifer Yen
  • Publisher:  Razorbill
  • Release Date: 2/2/21
  • Genre: Romance
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Trigger Warnings: Driving under the influence, unwanted sexual advances, brief mention of eating disorder
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: To her friends, high school senior Liza Yang is nearly perfect. Smart, kind, and pretty, she dreams big and never shies away from a challenge. But to her mom, Liza is anything but. Compared to her older sister Jeannie, Liza is stubborn, rebellious, and worst of all, determined to push back against all of Mrs. Yang’s traditional values, especially when it comes to dating. The one thing mother and daughter do agree on is their love of baking. Mrs. Yang is the owner of Houston’s popular Yin & Yang Bakery. With college just around the corner, Liza agrees to help out at the bakery’s annual junior competition to prove to her mom that she’s more than her rebellious tendencies once and for all. But when Liza arrives on the first day of the bake-off, she realizes there’s a catch: all of the contestants are young Asian American men her mother has handpicked for Liza to date. The bachelorette situation Liza has found herself in is made even worse when she happens to be grudgingly attracted to one of the contestants; the stoic, impenetrable, annoyingly hot James Wong. As she battles against her feelings for James, and for her mother’s approval, Liza begins to realize there’s no tried and true recipe for love.

It may not suprise you to learn that I am a massive Jane Austen fan. The fact that A Taste for Love is inspired by Pride and Prejudice won me over before I even started the book. It had me even more as I read the first line and found that it was inspired by the iconic first line of Austen’s book. I found myself eager to discover how A Taste of Love would mirror Pride and Prejudice and enjoyed matching up plot points and characters.

As a big fan of The Great British Bake Off, I loved that Liza used the show as an inspiration for the technical challenges she sets for her mother’s baking competition. The descriptions of the bakes had me drooling and wishing that I could be a judge along with Liza and her mother. James’ first bake is a batch of matcha infused cookies with orange-infused white chocolate, and his other bakes sound just as delicious. I also definitely wished I could make a trip to Yin & Yang bakery and taste Mrs. Yang’s taro cream buns or chocolate cake topped with fresh strawberries.

Liza is characterized with such specificity that I feel as though I know her. She loves romance novels, especially the Bridgerton series, boba, and The Great British Baking Show. Her passion and drive as so clear that I have no doubt she would be able to do incredible things whether she ends up in culinary school or otherwise. Her relationships with each of her parents, her sister, and her friends, Grace and Sarah, are all very clearly defined. She is likeable, but not perfect, making her an ideal central character.

James is also likable right from his initial introduction when he stands up for Liza when her cheating ex-boyfriend, Brody, won’t leave her alone. He starts off brooding and standoffish, much like Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Of course, I knew that his personality would be further revealed as the story continued, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about him as Liza grows to like him.

I also appreciated that Liza is willing to call her friend, Sarah, out when she makes an unintentionally racist comment. There is rising racism against the AAPI community in the United States, and it is so important for people to be called out when they make racist comments, even if they are unintentional. Sarah commits to learning and doing better, which is also so important.

Once I started this book, I barely put it down. I highly recommend A Taste of Love to anyone looking for a fun read that will leave you smiling…and hungry.

Food Pairing: Boba

In A Taste for Love, Liza and her friends spend a lot of time at their favorite tea cafe, Boba Life, so boba seemed like a natural pairing for this book.

If you have never had boba (or bubble tea), I highly recommend it. It is a Taiwanese drink that includes delicious and chewy tapioca balls along with milky and sweet tea.

I grew up drinking boba all of the time. The fruity and sweet flavors always used to be my favorite. These days, I usually go with a plainer black milk tea. I would love to try making my own boba, and I hope to do that soon!

For my fellow boba lovers, I also recommend Trader Joe’s new coffee and boba frozen dessert. As a lover of coffee ice cream and boba, I was certain that I would love it, and I did. It sells out very fast, but it is worth it if you can get your hands on some!

Grab some boba and settle in with A Taste for Love. You might even feel like you’re at Boba Life with Liza and her friends.

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