Comidas, Cocinas, y Cultura: Food in Latinx Children’s and Young Adult Literature

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Edited Collection
contact email: 

Comidas, Cocinas, y Cultura: Food in Latinx Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Food informs every facet of our lives, from the raw necessity of consuming nutrients for survival, to dining out for pleasure and social interaction. While we recognize that food is necessary for both living and enjoyment, food and all of its layers—its preparation, consumption, service, and the spaces in which it is consumed, prepared, and served—also holds memory, power, and meaning. In Chicanx/Latinx literature, food is intimately connected to histories of migration, displacement, identity, and characters’ complex journeys of development, particularly among young people. In her chapter, “Food Studies: The Language and Narratives that Define Us,” Chicana food scholar Meredith Abarca explains, “Food narratives help us understand the many ways food’s material and symbolic meanings define our sense of who we are historically, culturally, politically, and socio-economically.” That is, food is not simply a matter of what we consume for daily survival but intimately connected to our psyches, personal journeys, and family histories. 

In children’s and young adult literature, food shapes children’s lives and experiences, and scholars have explored this phenomenon in edited collections, monographs, and articles. However, this scholarly tradition rarely, if ever, extends to books about Latinx youth. Comidas, Cocinas, y Cultura: Food in Latinx Children’s and Young Adult Literature addresses this glaring gap by exploring what food—its presence, production, and/or consumption—communicates about Latinx childhood and youth. In Elizabeth Acevedo’s With the Fire On High, for example, Emoni’s cooking is both a connection to her Afro-Boricua culture and family and a means of constructing a better future for herself and her daughter. Food is less positive, however, in books like Fat Chance, Charlie Vega and Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, in which the characters experience fat shaming. This wide array of representations of food and food culture pushes us to ask questions, like: How does food inform Latinx children’s sense of self, community, and identity? Do certain foods connect to complex experiences of shame, seen, for example, in The First Rule of Punk, where a dislike of cilantro renders one a “lesser” Chicana? What foods do Latinx youth consume, and why? What food-spaces do youth inhabit, as in the case of Arturo Zamora, whose family owns a restaurant in Pablo Cartaya’s The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora? How is food used for transformation or enchantment, as in Anna-Marie McLemore’s work on magical pan dulce? 

We welcome chapter proposals that examine the multifaceted, complex ways food, consumption, preparation, embodiment, and more are presented in Latinx children’s and young adult literature.  

Please send abstracts of approximately 500 words, in addition to contact information, to the editors: Cristina Rhodes and Cristina Herrera, and by April 15, 2022. Decisions will be made by May 31, 2022. Completed chapters should be submitted by October 15, 2022.