Hungry Hearts Food Crawl! Moments to Return by Adi Alsaid

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love edited by Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond

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.

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Photo Credit: Michael Meskin

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.

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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.

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Welcome to my stop in this delicious Hungry Hearts Food Crawl! Today we’re going to talk about Adi Alsaid’s story, Moments to Return.

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, where he now lives, writes, and spills hot sauce on things. He’s the author of several YA novels including LET’S GET LOST, NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES, and NORTH OF HAPPY.

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Moments to Return is about a tourist from Montenegro desperately seeking a magic soup dumpling to help cure his fear of death. And it starts with him inside the restaurant trying to decide what he would like to eat because he’s made the choice to try to cure his fear with food. The story made me extremely hungry and to crave delicious soup dumplings (the ones that have the soup inside them, if you’ve never had them, you should, it’s worth it!). The first time I had them, I also didn’t know the trick our narrator is told, which is to bite the top off to let it cool down a tiny bit and well, of course I burnt my mouth. Woops!

However, the reason he’s having this magical food is to cure his fear of death and as I read this story I couldn’t help but keep thinking of how differnet the perspective on death is and how tied to food it is even in my own culture (Mexican).

I now live in the UK, but Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is one of my favourite parts of our culture. Now, I didn’t really know other countries were drastically different in treating death, for me it was something that happens and inevitable but we do our best to celebrate what has been rather than regret and be sad about it (it doesn’t mean we don’t do grief).

Anyway, once I moved to the UK, I realised how different the perspective on death was and how much of a taboo subject it was, so I decided to host my own Day of the Dead celebration explaining the culture, sharing food and bringing people together because at the end of the day, the magic of food is how it connects us and bring us together.

A feast of salsa’s, dips, toppings and chips to eat with the rest of the meal.

Being Mexican means I love preparing too much food and making people smile with food. And Day of the Dead is about making the favourite foods of those that passed away, going to visit our dead and talking to them, but also, sharing that food with others to rejoice in the life that was lived. It is a celebration of life, full of colour, with many skulls everywhere (I couldn’t get my hands on the classic sugar candy skulls we make, but those are a treat).

However, I made Pan de Muerto, which has a “brioche” base, a slight orange blossom flavour and it is rich and buttery, and the top has a cross of “bones”. Some say it is to represent the way the Dead have to go and to guide them home and back to the Land fo the Dead, others say it comes from Aztec knowledge of gods. To me it has always been a representation of our dead and to share with others.

Pan de Muerto, tortillas in a teacloth to keep warm, vegetarian taco filling and meat taco filling.

Of course, the party was a success, making people a little bit less shy about death and more open to talk about their loved ones that have gone ahead of us/them. It was a moment of sharing a meal, talking and opening up. Maybe there wasn’t the magic to cure fear of death, but it definitely makes you a little bit less afraid, a little more human and glad to have others there to share with.

A happy me hosting the party!

In the end, food has magic, and all the stories in Hungry Hearts let you experience some of that magic. Because making food is a kind of magic but eating it is also magic.

It delights you, fills you, and provides nourishment, what else do you need?

Come join the rest of us in our delightful food crawl (and probably go find some awesome places to eat delicious food, because you will be hungry after reading each of the short stories in it!).


Hungry Hearts Food Crawl Schedule:

June 10th – Introduction
Vicky (Welcome + Interview)

June 11th – Karuna Riazi
Naadhira (Review)

June 12th – Rin Chupeco
Bianca (Review + Creative Post) & Kate (Review + Recipe)

June 13th – Jay Coles
Nikki (Review + Creative Post)

June 14th – Elsie Chapman
Kevin (Review + Creative Post) & Natalia (Review + Creative Post)

June 15th – Sara Farizan
Em (Review)

June 16th – Caroline T. Richmond
Lili (Review + Creative Post) & Tiffany (Review + Creative Post)

June 17th – Adi Alsaid
Moon (Review + Creative Post)

June 18th – Sandhya Menon
Aimal (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board) & Dia (Review + Fave Quotes)

June 19th – S. K. Ali
Mish (Review + Creative Post)

June 20th – Phoebe North
Kayla (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board)

June 21st – Rebecca Roanhorse
Lila (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board) & AJ (Review + Aesthetic/Mood board)

June 22nd – Sangu Mandanna
Nandini (Review + Creative Post) & Prags (Review + Fave Quotes)

June 23rd – Anna-Marie McLemore
Nox (Review + Creative Post)

June 24th – Closing
CW (Review + Food Crawl)

8 thoughts on “Hungry Hearts Food Crawl! Moments to Return by Adi Alsaid”

  1. You prepare delicious foods! The Day of the Dead party sounds amazing and now I know more about what it’s about. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. I love your post so darn much, and this whole blog tour is so incredibly – every single post is making me more and more excited for Hungry Hearts, and I’ve already been eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. I’ve never tried soup dumplings, but I definitely want to now, I’ll need to try to hunt it down somewhere, or find a recipe. Amazing post!

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    1. I have to say that the book just made me amssively hungry. It had so much delicious food and magic in food. I’d suggest trying to find them made by some authentic restaurant they’re better that way the first time 🙂 I make a lot of food but I don’t make soup dumplings as they can easily be screwed up 😦

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