How to Savour a Good Book
In my bookclub, one of our traditions has become serving food in keeping with the theme of the current book. When we studied The Kiterunner, we had naan and pomegranate. For The Russlander, I dug into my Mennonite roots to serve roll kuken and watermelon, and for Sweetness in the Belly, we enjoyed dark Ethiopian coffee.
This is just for an extra dose of fun and to challenge the host’s creativity. However, I am intrigued by how frequently and how intensely food is united with story. It is used as a catalyst for character development, as a symbol, as a cultural emblem, as a means for describing a sense of place, a way of creating suspense, a clue to a mystery, a plot structure, a societal commentary, and a punch of humour. I just finished reading Peace like a River by Leif Enger (now one of my favourite novels, by the way). Throughout, food (and coffee in particular) percolates, brews, simmers, and cools. A young boy and his girl of interest whip up a batch of pancakes in the church basement while, above, a revival service leaves several attendees shaken by the Spirit. The father serves a biblically bottomless pot of soup to an unexpected (and uninhibited) travelling salesman. A getaway is shepherded by a bowl of cereal, and a romance ushered in by an innocent dinner offered to wayside wanderers.
I’m a little nervous about what we will be served later this year when we discuss The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.