Eat Your Book

What's the perfect accompaniment to a good book? A good meal inspired by that book.

I belong to a small book club in a small South Carolina town. We read one book every two months and meet to discuss the book and eat. Whenever possible (and it's usually possible) we pair the food to the setting or focus of the book. For example, when the book was set in New York State, we all brought a deli-style item to share. Our meeting for "All the Light we Cannot See" was particularly delicious with French dishes. "The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor" meeting featured a table loaded with traditional Southern food, and earlier this year, the meeting to discuss "Brunelleschi's Dome" was a huge success with all manner of Italian Rennaisance dishes.

Where do you find recipes for Rennaisance dishes? Surprisingly enough (or not), on the internet! Our combined book-lovers' community menu included roasted chicken, mixed greens with green onions, polenta with mushrooms, orzo salad, Caprese salad and a fabulous wine-poached peach tart. While the salads were modern, they were Italian in flavor. The other dishes sound rather modern--something you might order at the newest downtown bistro--but they're quite authentic for the foods that were available and being prepared during the Renaissance period in Italy.

Most recently, we enjoyed discussing "Hero of the Empire," a wonderful non-fiction account of the life and adventures of a young Winston Churchill and his involvement in the Boer War. We learned a great deal about leadership, good and bad examples on both side of the war, and about the events that helped to shape the future Prime Minister of Great Britain. The food focus was South African. We dined on traditional chicken curry, Bobotie and Sambal and enjoyed fabulous gin cocktails and South African wines. Researching the history of traditional South African foods was as much fun for me as reading the book.

Don't you want to join our book club?