Friday, April 11, 2008

Food, wine, and books—
not necessarily in that order
(well, ok, maybe)

It's so nice to have some help from the blogger gals when I need some inspiration for entertaining! I hosted our book group's monthly meeting at our house last night (I missed the last two meetings because of ski plans and school meetings, so I think this was a trick to get me to attend), and I needed a vegetarian-friendly entree and a dessert.

The Mrs. (a.k.a. One Fabulous Mom) made Blue Cheese Fondue at Easter that I've been wanting to try, and with the beautiful California asparagus available, it seemed like the perfect dish. The host usually sends out an email asking whose coming and announcing what she will be serving so other people can plan their contribution to the meal accordingly. At least one member was worried about the fondue being "too blue." But since it uses half blue and half cambazola, it was just perfect and not too salty the way I would imagine a fondue of just blue would be. I served it with steamed asparagus and broccoli; fresh fennel, scallions, radishes, and tomatoes (my produce market has these lovely romanito that are as good as it gets for such an early tomato); and olive bread. I think they like it.

For dessert, I borrowed a recipe from Gwendomama for Meyer Lemon Custard Cake. I have a Meyer lemon tree in my backyard that is finally producing lots of fruit, so I'm always looking for good lemon recipes. This recipe is similar to a souffle (at least that's how mine turned out), and I wish I would have timed it to be served straight out of the oven. Still, it was quick to prepare and delicious and paired nicely with fresh strawberries.

But, wait! It's a book group, right?? Indeed, it is, and so we didn't just eat and drink (our official name is the FoodIMeanBookGroup, but we should probably be called the WineIMeanFoodIMeanBookGroup). Look at how seriously Jim (the only male member of our group—he's sort of a girlfriend-type guy) is pondering our weighty discussion:

The book up for discussion was Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. You may have heard her recently on NPR flogging her latest book, an exploration of the science of sex. My advice is to skip that one and read Stiff.

The first couple of chapters especially are just hilarious (in the introduction she laments how when the funeral home prepared her mother for burial, they gussied her up such that Roach felt she like had asked for a regular wash and instead received a full detailing). Roach has an astounding curiosity and seemingly no boundaries: There is nothing she will not ask about, and with very few exceptions, if she's heard of something, she wants to see it. And tell you about it. This works well for satisfying the morbid fascination we all have (we're all going to end up dead, right?), although one member (the thoughtful one) noted that her persistent insertion of herself into the story is in some chapters distracting, as if she is continually peeking out from behind the curtains to draw attention back to herself. This could, I imagine, be more of a problem in a book on sex, especially since she offers up herself and her husband as subjects for sex therapy, which she then documents. Sounds like TMI for me! We also had a lot of fun talking about dead people we knew. I'm the only one who has never seen a dead person! Or an x-rated movie. Do I have to get out more, or is that ok??

For our meeting, we'll be discussing Water for Elephants (we decided that last meeting). For the meeting after that we chose from these three:

The winner was The Tortilla Curtain (we've got some T.C. Boyle fans in our ranks). I've read Easter Island and really liked it. I've been wanting to read The Gathering, which seems to be one of those books people either love or hate. I've already read Water for Elephants and liked it a lot.

Until next month!


Angelina said...

I want some callas!!

That sounds like such a fun book group. I read Jessica Mitford's book about the funeral home business and it was fantastic!! (I suddenly can't remember the name of it)

MsMVNJ said...

Loved Water for Elephants! I'm going to try that fondue, it looks wonderful. I would love to have a book club that covers that stuff. Most of the ones around me read bodice -rippers. Ugh....

E said...

looks like a great night- and your food sounds delicious!

gwendomama said...

yum. i would recommend topping that with the lavender cream. dude. so good.

tortilla curtain=a FAVORITE book. my friend (dottynana) from topanga claims it is FICTION.
well, okay.
drop city is also FANfreakingtastic.

Anonymous said...

I'm on my way to google Tortilla Curtain. I LOVE the title. Definitely something I would pick up to browse through in a bookstore...

And your calla lilies are gorgeous. Do you grow them in your yard?

Cindy said...

I have a pot of the calla lilies on my back patio, but I cut these from a vacant lot near our house that is filled with them. I sneak down there with my scissors and feel like Mrs. Dalloway returning home with an armful. :)

Belle in Bloom said...

That sounds like a great time! I think the order of the title is very appropriate and way more fun. I always love hearing your book reviews. I bought Water for Elephants but haven't started it yet. Thanks for your thoughts and concerns for Little One. He's going to be fine. :)

Anne-Toireasa said...

Stiff is an AWESOME book. It was one of my beach reads last summer - and I found it to be tremendously fascinating. A good friend of mine works in the lab they mentioned in the cadaver stress testing chapter - and the gentleman Mary Roach talks about is her boss. How random is that? haha. Yikes!

MixinMike said...

that's so funny, because I thought your guy friend was a woman at first glance, and the photo of all the others, I thought they were men at first, especially the one at the head of the table! LOL!