What’s your pleasure? Polishing off piroshki in Saint Petersburg, sipping a quick cup of saffron tea at a Mumbai train station, or nibbling on crunchy deep-fried scorpions in Beijing?
In Delicious!: Poems Celebrating Street Food Around the World (Beach Lane Books, 2021), my two favorite Julies — Julie Larios and Julie Paschkis — tempt readers with sweet and savory treats sure to rouse appetites and stir wanderlust.
There’s always something special about grabbing a quick bite al fresco, whether you’re wandering a city street or byway, browsing a busy outdoor market, or sitting in a stadium cheering on your favorite team. Few can resist the tantalizing aromas emanating from a well appointed food truck and ordering something cooked right on the spot by a friendly vendor.
The fourteen short, 4-6 line poems feature an appealingly diverse mix of familiar as well as exotic eats. Our culinary journey begins right here in the USA, with a nod to the immigrants whose various foods, cultures and traditions have informed our palate and enriched American society.
CARTS IN THE PARK New York, New York, USA Syrian shawarma wrapped in a pita? Biryani? Pork carnitas? Maybe I’ll get a hot falafel. Schnitzel? Pretzel? Sesame noodles? Cajun? Lebanese? Cuban? Thai? So many choices! What should I try?
Julie L. serves up a savory mouthful with delectable words — food names are fun to read aloud and a nice reminder that while it may be wonderful to visit faraway places, we can enjoy so many mouthwatering vittles without ever leaving the country.
Her inclusion of sensory details (especially sounds) in other verses creates an upbeat sense of immediacy. Love hearing the “Pio! Pio!” of lovebirds chirping in a Mexican market, the “r-r-r-ring! T-t-t-ting!” of the Morrocan bike vendor’s rusty bell, and the “s-s-s-s-s” sound a Chinese dancer makes, “Like little snakes looking for food.”
In “Winter Meal,” hungry munchkins count down four Russian treats with something to smile about at the end:
WINTER MEAL Saint Petersburg, Russia Four pelmeni, three piroshki, two sweet blini -- one big belly.
Kids will enjoy picking up fascinating tidbits while licking their way through this book and checking out the end notes. Have you heard about the Lord of Miracles celebration in Lima, Peru (complete with pink-sprinkled star cookies), or that in addition to deep-fried scorpions on sticks, you can also chew on seahorses, starfish, centipedes, lizards and cockroaches in Beijing, or even that if you lived in Marrakech, you can buy candy, figs, and dates from door-to-door bicycle vendors?
Julie P. invites us to feast with our eyes in a series of colorful, vibrant diptychs — one panel depicting people + food, the other showcasing the text of the poem. These are set against gorgeous folkloric backgrounds embellished with regional and ethnic motifs — a perfect way to capture the flavors of the poems and celebrate cultures.
Each page turn is a surprise and delight, whether pretty flowers and birds, big piles of orange peels, exquisite Moroccan tiles, frightful Indonesian masks, or striking African textiles. Julie P. is a master of pattern, design, and decoration.
STARS Lima, Peru From a tin tray on parade day to celebrate the Lord of Miracles -- star cookies, pink sprinkles!
When our bellies are just about full after our little jaunt across the globe, we head home to make room for one last bite at Boston’s Fenway Park. Is there anything more American or nostalgic than scarfing down a yummy hot dog with relish (hold the onions, please)?
Delicious! may spark lively discussions about favorite street foods consumed here or abroad, with debates over who’s been the most adventurous when it comes to feasting on foreign fare. While arousing curiosity and prompting “ewwws” over eating fried insects, the poems also comfort readers with the more familiar pretzels, orange juice, or fish and chips.
No better way to travel the world than bite by bite, chew by chew, sip by sip. Here are two more poems to get your tummy growling:
MARKET BREAKFAST Oaxaca, Mexico Steaming cup of champurrado, panecitos, cinnamon churros -- mmm, mmm! Delicioso! Lovebirds chirp: Pio! Pio!
SUMMER DAY Dakar, Senegal Cousin, cousin -- cold bouye? Cold bouye from the baobab tree? And icy bissap water for me.
After drooling my way through the book, I looked up all the foods that were new to me (quite a few). Here are three I would most like to try someday:
And then to wash it all down with a glass of bissap, a juice made from the flowers of the Roselle plant (a variety of hibiscus).
Muchos Gracias for the tasty poems, Julie Larios (who fondly remembers a delicious mug of hot chocolate she had one chilly day in Girona, Spain), and,
Thank you very much for the beautiful art, Julie Paschkis (whose favorite street food is elote (grilled corn) from Oaxaca, Mexico).
You know, I just might change my name to Julie. 😋
DELICIOUS!: Poems Celebrating Street Food Around the World
written by Julie Larios
illustrated by Julie Paschkis
published by Beach Lane Books, April 13, 2021
Poetry Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
*Includes Endnotes: An International Menu of Sweets and Treats
♥️ Check out Julie Larios’s delightful post at Books Around the Table for some backstory about the book.
♥️ Julie Paschkis discusses how she created the illustrations in this post. Did you know her initial samples were papercuts?
Punster Princess Bridget Magee is hosting the Roundup at wee words for wee ones. Wing on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!!
*Interior spreads text copyright © 2021 Julie Larios, illustrations © 2021 Julie Paschkis, published by Beach Lane Books. All rights reserved.
**Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.