Ambrosia salad, gumbo, fruit pizza and mimosa. Not your typical dinner party fare. But, this isn’t your typical dinner party. This party is actually a book club gathering.
Book clubs show no signs of being a passing fad. Even years after Oprah encouraged her followers to band together, read and discuss, libraries continue to host clubs and recommend books. And why not? As a friend of mind (and avid book clubber) once told me, “It’s like being part of a community.” The key to these micro communities is the book, of course. But, you can’t deny (at least, I can’t) that food is also a vital part.
So, how does one go about organizing food for a book club meeting? Some of the most common approaches are also the most fun. Read the book with an eye to any food that appears in the narrative. One that’s become a classic is The Silence of the Lamb‘s liver, fava beans and Chianti. (Discuss: Kenny Hemphill suggests that this line contains a hidden message.) Jenn McKinlay‘s cupcake mysteries are great fun and packed with yummy cake suggestions. McKinlay actually provides recipes at the end of the book, too. Sadly, those had been ripped out of my library copy!
If the book doesn’t mention food or drink of any kind, look to the cultural references. In what country is the book set? Worse case scenario, where you can’t seem to glean any kind of useful (read: edible) information, make it up. What kind of feel does the book leave you with?
Food lends its own unique flavour to the characters. So, go ahead and indulge.
Death at the Priory: Love, Sex and Murder in Victorian England James Ruddick
Bake up a 19th century cookie recipe while you consider whether the beautiful Florence Ricardo caused her brutal husband’s mysterious and agonizing death.
Peter and Wendy J.M. Barrie
Fish appear quite a bit throughout this classic novel about the boy who wouldn’t grow up. Serve smoked salmon spread on crackers with codfish soup and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.