I Hate Lumpia
Lemons, in any way, shape and form, make me laugh. They bring me right back to #romanceclass, that time when theater actor Jef Flores sucked the life out of a poor, hapless lemon in the guise of kilig, reading a scene from Camilla Sisco’s “Sumbission Moves”, back when we could still be outside and suck lemons in public. Lemons are expensive, ha! And now they just make me laugh!
Lumpia initiates an instant ‘ick’ reflex for me. It reminds me of typhoons-so-strong-they-suspend-classes days, of a cold packed lunch I open up when my classmates have been picked up by their parents to go home, and I’m the only one left in the classroom.
There is no food mentioned in Sweet on You I haven’t associated with something else. Gabriel’s Sosy Tita cookies are a riff on my family’s favorite Neiman Marcus, yema rolls used to be sold at the now closed Shoppesville Bakery that my siblings and I had for baon. Bonete is a recent revelation my parents shared on one of their many weekend trips to Lipa.
In my mind, these foods are not exactly “Filipino”. They are not cultural markers that make me unique, or things that I add into my books because I know it will make it seem more Pinoy. They are just what they are—memories that make me happy, and things that help convey emotion. They are things that I interact and deal with on an almost daily basis. Food and memories always go hand in hand for me, especially, in a country where people are greeted with, “kumain ka na?” right after ‘hellos’ and besos.
I credit my writing career to #romanceclass for a lot of reasons, but one of it being that I was given a space to find my voice, to sing it loud and strong without thinking too hard if I’m being “too Pinoy” or “not Pinoy enough.” Because my experience is what it is, and by virtue of who I am, it is Filipino. And I never really thought about how talking about these foods would be “revolutionary” or particularly “cultural” for anyone, because it’s just part of my life. Of who I am.
Gabriel bakes a mango cake from these magic mangoes (which I just realized are off-season at the time of him baking, oops) from Zambales, which is a nod to Agay Llanera’s Mango Summer, the book that inspired me to dig deep into food and all the good things its associated with. He buys his flowers from Hope’s Garden, a nod to Chi Yu Rodriguez’ Bye Bye Bouquet, where I first read a fun trope that had only previous existed in fanfic for me. Tropical Hot condoms are a shout out to the Summer Crush series by Jay E. Tria, Six de los Reyes and Tara Frejas, who always make reading fun.
All of these are more direct nods and tributes to make Sweet on You what it is, at its core—a love letter to Romanceclass, a thank you to them for allowing me to discover my voice in between the kilig, to figure out what I want to say in between the landian. All of this, to say that they made these memories and this kind of food special, which is why I can write it easily.
About the Author
Carla believes that every romance has to have a happily ever after.
For her, there is always something new to share with the world through her art and her writing, and writes sexy contemporary romance in order to give her readers maximum amounts of kilig. She believes that every person needs a safe space, and she hopes her books provide that, too.
She also loves pain au chocolat, and is on a quest to see as many Manet paintings as she can.
Title: Sweet on You
Author: Carla de Guzman
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Imprint: Carina Press
On Sale: October 19, 2020
Format: Ebook (Mass Market Paperback coming December 29, 2020!)
Price: $3.99 U.S.
Book Description: All’s fair in love and prank wars
For barista and café owner Sari Tomas, Christmas means parols, family and no-holds-barred karaoke contests. This year, though, a new neighbor is throwing a wrench in all her best-laid plans. The baker next door—“some fancy boy from Manila”—might have cute buns, but when he tries to poach her customers with cheap coffee and cheaper tactics, the competition is officially on.
And Baker Boy better be ready, because Sari never loses.
Foodie extraordinaire Gabriel Capras wants to prove to his dad that his career choice doesn’t make him any less a man. The Laneways might not be Manila, but the close-knit community is the perfect spot to grow his bakery into a thriving business. He wasn’t expecting a gorgeous adversary in the barista next door, but flirting with her makes his heart race, and it’s not just the caffeine.
It’s winner takes all this Christmas. And more than one competitor might just lose their heart for the holidays.