Book Review: The Book Club Cookbook

by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Published by Penguin, March 2012

Last week I received two unsolicited cookbooks. They both gave me hours and hours of happy reading. Today I’d like to tell you about the first one and next week I’ll tell you about the second.

The Book Club Cookbook is a revised and updated version of the author’s original 2004 edition. The authors conducted a wide ranging survey. (I participated – probably why I got the book.) They collected information about favorite books read by book clubs along with food served at the meetings.

The result is a 474 page tome that’s a listing of the best pairings of great literature and great food. This is also a great resource to help book clubs pick their book list. And yes, it has some fantastic recipes in it. Many of them are from authors and/or their families.

There is so much info in this book that I was amazed. It’s chock full of useful stuff. To show you what I mean, let me share a few books I like and the food suggestions.

  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. When talking about each book, I found several paragraphs about the story. Then the recipe(s) begins. For this book there is a pairing of Teriyaki Beef Skewers and Teriyaki Sauce. In the story, when Sayuri first met the Minister, he is eating marinated beef on skewers. So, we learn how to make the beef and the sauce. At the end there is a section called “Novel Thoughts.” Here various book clubs share their experience with this book.
  • In The Secret Life o Bees (Sue Monk Kidd) I was hoping for something with honey. I got more than I hoped for. If you’ve read the book, you’ll remember the beekeeping sisters served Honey Cake to the Daughters of Mary. In The Cook Book Club the Honey Cake recipe is one that the author’s husband created just for her book’s release. There were several other clever ideas from other bookclubs, such as drinking coke with a peanut in it. Do you remember that in the book?
  • Half-Broke Horses is a novel I’m reading for one of my book clubs next month. So, of course, I enjoyed The Book Club Cookbook’s discussion of the story. The protagonist’s cooking is very basic, so the recipe for Cowboy Hash was just right. It was created by a book club member in Pennsylvania. Another bookclub created the Cornbread Fritters. There were lots of very good suggestions from other book clubs.

And that’s how the whole book goes. There are 100 books covered. Imagine! In the back there are two very good indexes. One index is for the food and the other is arranged by authors and titles and then by genre. A very helpful resource, but it also makes for great reading. Thanks Judy Gelman and Vicki Krupp.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.

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