Many women, and I am sure some men, belong to a book club these days. Like all groups, book clubs develop their own social norms. In some groups there is no overt or covert censure for not reading the book you agreed to read for the evening. Meanwhile, members of other clubs may send a invisible chill across to the room to that unlucky woman who announces once again she hasn’t gotten around to reading the story. Some groups even have compulsory attendance rules. Yikes.
Now MY Book Club, since you want to know, falls into the very- few -rules- category. Members take turns hosting, and the selection of books seems to happen by some unseen democratic process. I am not an original member of the group, so I don’t know if they ever said things in the beginning such as , “Let us read books of literary merit. Or at least no insultingly bad best sellers.” But I am grateful that no one in the group ever suggests reading some type of annoying treacle. Because I wouldn’t want to burst out in some unflattering pronouncement if someone were to make such a suggestion. And though we try to respect one another’s book suggestions, my ardent bibliophilia requires me to maintain some standards.
So of course we discuss the book of the evening, and compare one another’s responses to the characters, plots, and prose. Spirited debate takes place over whether character A actually had an ulterior motive when he undertook Action B. When one member announces she couldn’t put a particular book down, another will declare she found the characters in the very same book completely boring. We are all equals in the realm of book discussion. No member is admired more, or less, because of her reading habits.
But if you want to locate the Queen of The Book Club, go where the food is. Because good food is one of the top reasons to have a book club. Wine is another. Listen to the talk in the dining room. What talented, genius woman baked that warm crusty bread, oozing with melted butter? Who conjured the Indian vegetables sizzling with tumeric and roasted cumin seeds? Who churned the homemade mango ice cream? For SHE is the Queen of the Book Club for the evening.
The Queen’s subjects identify themselves by their adoring glances at their plates, their raised eyebrows and bugged- out eyes, and their enthusiastic expressions of gustatory pleasure. Mmmm! MMmmm!! MMMMM!!! Oh. Chew. OH!! Yes! I’ll have what she’s having! The subjects approach the Queen with supplications to release her recipe and the its provenance, a request to which she complies with appropriate grace and ceremony, as befits a royal. The Queen declares her dish was something easy to do, and that the other members can also achieve the same results. Recipes will be emailed forthwith. She doesn’t preen, but appreciates each and every subject.
The higher culinary standards of the group have challenged me to look for dishes to bring which at least to me seem more novel – ha- than the average fare. I have at times felt the warm glow that comes from assuming the Crown for the evening, when I ran across a new recipe on a blog, and decided to give it a try.
Have YOU ever been the Queen of The Book Club? If so, what dish did you make? For those who have not yet been the Queen, I am from time to time going to share some recipes I have made which catapulted me into royalty. Because I think everyone deserves to be a Queen, if only for the evening.
Today’s selection is Very Green Tahini Dip. I saw this recipe on Tasting Table and was intruiged by the combination of ingredients.
Very Green Avocado-Tahini Dip
Recipe adapted from Wild About Greens, Nava Atlas (Sterling)
Yield: 1½ cups
Cook Time: 4 minutes
4 ounces (about 4 cups) baby spinach or arugula
1 large, ripe avocado–halved, pitted and diced
⅓ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
Juice of 1 medium lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, cilantro or dill
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crudités, pita chips or fresh pita bread for serving