I am not now, nor have I ever been, a contributing member of a book club. Or a non-contributing member for that matter. I like to read books, and I like to talk about books, but I just haven’t gotten it together to merge the two. At one point, I thought it might be fun to start an US magazine book club, where all us moms could drink yummy cocktails and talk about sparkley dresses and reality shows that I don’t even watch, but really I would just want to have the drinks and chat. Yet somehow, the gods of free books found it in their hearts to send me a copy of the coolest book club book ever. Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, creators of bookclubcookbook.com have come out with a revised and updated second edition of The Book Club Cook Book: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors.
I missed it when the first edition of this book came out, but I have loved pouring over this second edition. Even the Table of Contents is fun; each book title is paired with a recipe title so you can search for your favs and decide if you’d want that recipe. Ahab’s Wife (by Sana Jeter Naslund) comes with a seafood chowder recipe (of course), Bel Canto (by Ann Patchett – when do I get to go to her Nashville bookstore?) is paired with eggplant caponata, and The Great Gatsby has you drinking mint juleps. The titles and food ideas are endless!
After you check out how many of these books you have already read (most), it’s fun to see what has been written about them. Each entry includes a brief synopses of the book along with the recipe, but the book club gals have also included discussions with many of the authors about why certain foods or recipes were included in the story or their own reasons for choosing particular recipes. So, sometimes the author’s family recipe for, say, vanilla kipferls (crescent cookies), thank you Markus Zusak, show up because the author has shared that that was what he remembers his own grandmother baking and savored those memories while writing about life in World War II Germany (The Book Thief). The Novel Thoughts sections after the recipes and the More Food For Thought sections after that include even more information about the books as well as interviews with specific book clubs about their own book/recipe pairings.
When asked about the creation of The Book Club Cookbook, the authors share that each of them discovered a connection between books and food in their own book clubs, a specific pairing of certain books with particular foods, and then a realization that most authors included descriptions of food based on cultural, ethnic, and familial traditions. Because food figured prominently in their own book club experiences, the authors ‘…thought it would appeal to book club members to have delicious, thematically appropriate recipes at their fingertips…”. It sounds like book clubs around the country really get into connecting what they’re reading to what they’re eating.
I’m not real sure I’ll get to experience this book the way the authors have intended, as I have read most of these books already, do not participate in a book club, and lack the ability to plan ahead. But, I do hope to at least try some of the recipes (ahem, Demetrie’s chocolate pie, sans poo poo), and I will definitely continue to enjoy reading what the original authors as well as the Book Club Cookbook authors have to say about their books and their food. If you happen to belong to one of these clubs and you still haven’t read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, go buy this book and start working on some glogg to enjoy with your Swedish meatballs.