Hello readers! Did you love reading Love and Gelato by Jenna Eva Welch? Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas, may not be set in Italy or feature a dreamy soccer-playing Italian, instead it offers up the French countryside, a handsome Spaniard, and an aspiring chef.
Oh, and of course, a latinx protagonist.
These plot points made me fall in love with this story so much so that I had to pre-order it. But then a week before its release, I received a complimentary copy from Mayra Cuevas in exchange for my honest review.
- Isabella Fields heads to France, after the death of her Abuela Lala and her parent’s messy divorce.
- Isa’s moves in with her father and her stepmom, Margo, on their cherry orchard.
- Although Isa loves her father, she is also in France to participate in a short culinary competition, with the winner receiving an internship at one of France’s top restaurants.
- Just before Isa’s first day at the culinary school, she meets Diego, Margo’s stepson from her previous marriage. Isa finds Diego infuriating handsome but not even Beluga, his albino bulldog can’t win her over.
- Isa learns a lot in her culinary class, but once she’s thrown into a Michelin star kitchen, she begins to question everything.
Salty, bitter, Sweet is now one of my favorite novels! It might have something to do with the beautiful descriptions of food or the French countryside, but I enjoyed this reading this novel so much!
Not only are the descriptions beautiful, but I loved the way the author chose to interweave the different languages together. I love when novels have characters speak their native language and I love seeing those languages on the pages. This is exactly what happens in Salty, Bitter, Sweet; keeping up with all these languages can be confusing, so the back of the novels offers explanations and descriptions of all the delicious food Isa ever mentions.
Isa’s multicultural experience is explained uniquely throughout the novel. Isa’s mother is French and her father Cuban American, so Isa has her foot in all these cultures and languages. But besides picking up these languages, Isa also picks up recipes. From her mother, Coq au vin, from Lala, her famous apple pie.
Isa loves to cook so I thought it was brilliant that the author highlighted her cultures with food.
Something that infuriated me while reading this book was the ignorance and prejudice displayed by a particular chef in training. Isa is biracial, born to a French mother and a Cuban-American father, she grew up speaking three languages, however, once in France she begins to second guess her French and Spanish speaking skills.
On top of that, Isa has to defend herself from an ignorant classmate who informs her she’s AMERICAN, and her ties to France are nonexistent even if she has a French mother.
Having people tell you what culture you belong to or don’t belong to truly infuriates me. Excuse me, but did you walk in my shoes? I didn’t think so bye!
Salty, Bitter, Sweet isn’t heavy on the romance, but I did enjoy the dynamic between Isa and Diego. Isa is so determined to become a Michelin star chef that she hasn’t considered what kind of person she has to become to get there. Diego had a big dream to become an Olympic swimmer but quit after he realized how unhappy he became.
Diego and Isa have a complex dynamic. Diego challenges Isa to reconsider her purpose after seeing how stress she becomes day after day. Although Isa takes a while to realize what she truly wants, in the end, she makes the right decision for herself.
The last thing I wanted to touch on this novel was Isa’s, Abuela Lala. Lala has passed away by the beginning of this novel, and Isa is still grieving her death. Lala leaves Isa her cookbook with all her recipes, but Isa to heartbroken to open it. Instead, Isa thinks of her Abuela every time she’s in the kitchen.
This novel has made me curious about tasting Lala’s famous apple pie recipe, and I’m not the biggest fan of it. However, a Cuban American apple pie has me intrigued.
However, this novel might get you in your feelings if you were close to your grandmother.
Although this novel is very reminiscence of Love and Gelato, there are of course several differences between the two stories. However, if you liked one story, I would recommend reading the other.
My final rating for Salty Bitter Sweet is 4 stars. I recommend reading this book with a warm beverage and a plate full of guava pastelitos.
Until next time,
Continue living in libros