By Kerrie More
The idea of a book club materialized over drinks with a few fellow teachers almost twenty five years ago. Each of us recruited a friend or two and the rest, as they say, is history. One evening a month, like clockwork, we come together at a different member’s home. With such a long history, a number of changes and evolutions have taken place in our structure and routines. However, one constant remains. Whenever I arrive at Book Club, the hostess will reliably, predictably, and faithfully greet me with the question: “Red or white?” These three simple words melt away the stress of the day, or even month. They are a signal that I am among friends and the next couple of hours will be nourishing mentally, spiritually and physically.
It’s no secret that book clubs place a certain amount of importance on food, although to varying degrees, and it took our group several years to find our sweet-spot. At that first gathering, Arlene, with her brilliantly decorated home and cozy fireplace served an array of snacks and finger-foods (including her special spicy-sweet meatballs that we grew to love and expect.) For years, the rest of us followed her lead. Meat and cheese, crackers, dips, veggie trays…sometimes a few chocolates, and always, always the “Red or White?” We remembered that when we went to one member’s house (who had the appetite of a bird) the offerings would be scant, so we would be sure to eat beforehand. We started to cut-back early in the day in anticipation of Jo’s hot cheesy dips and yummy desserts.
Feasts from all cultures
At some point along the way it was mentioned that many of us were coming straight from work and perhaps we should make a point to have something a bit more substantial. Soon we were enjoying pots of soup served with warm rolls or bubbly casseroles and green salad. Tanya, the self-professed “foodie” of the group put her cookbook collection to work as she began serving up elaborate meals based on the setting of the book. Russian, Cuban and Italian feasts have accompanied our discussions at her impeccably set table. She scurries around making sure we are all content, and she loves every minute of it.
As one decade became two, the food has become an extension of our personalities and circumstances, and if there was any temptation to try to “keep up” with one another, it has all but dissolved. We know that Eliza works more hours each week than should be humanly possible, so when the pizza delivery shows up during book club at her house, one of us answers the door and another one grabs the paper plates. We “Ooh” and “Ahhh” with genuine enthusiasm over Tanya’s gourmet feasts because it brings her joy (and us too!) Jo has never ceased nurturing us with her comfort food and yummy desserts, and if Barb is going through a rough patch she just might serve hot-dogs from the grill.
More than just a book club
Yes, we actually do talk about the book, and in doing so, we’ve found a portal to discussing the issues that matter most to us. We’ve lost parents, spouses and beloved pets. We’ve had babies, battled infertility and adopted puppies. There have been retirements and job changes. Illnesses, surgeries and recoveries. We’re more than just a book club, we’re a sisterhood. Navigating life together has resulted in a non-judgmental, anything-goes attitude. One evening a month, we know we can laugh and cry, share and listen. We know that it doesn’t really matter what food we serve as long as we’re together and there’s “Red or White?”
Guest writer: Kerrie More is a school librarian struggling with too many creative interests as well as a stack of books she most likely will never finish. She is currently drafting a non-fiction book proposal hoping to take her passion for research and storytelling to the next level. On weekends, she can be found hiking the mountains of Montana with her husband and exploring nature through the lens of her camera.
Soul Food September:
Throughout September, Soulhub is sharing personal stories from Guest Writers including Nutritionalist (Author of Gut Gastronomy, Broth & Amazing Edible Seeds) Vicki Edgson, Soul Food Live every Tuesday with Carey Davies-Munro, Q&A’s with nutritional specialists Sue Camp & Melinda McDougall, podcasts with Nicola Moore, and education about our relationship with food.
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