NOTE – CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 3-14-15 FEATURE IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
We had a great turnout for the winter edition of Dames Who Read, held on January 27 at Dame Amy Morton’s Found Kitchen and Social House in Evanston. The evening opened with a glass of wine and a game: Dame Patty Erd put together a “Sniff Test” based on elements of the evening’s discussion book, “Delicious!” by Ruth Reichl. Each Dame was given a note card to be filled in after smelling the 12 essential oil samples on offer. A few came with clever clues, while some we were left to puzzle out on our own. The winners, with seven out of twelve correct answers were Past President Jen Lamplough and me, which led to a “Smell-Off” and a plentiful box of baker’s spices and extracts from The Spice House. Who won? Let’s just say that my house smells like bergamot!
We sat down to a delightful family-style dinner, prepared by Found’s much-acclaimed chef, Nicole Pederson. We started with platters of beautiful Midwestern prosciutto and Parmesan, accompanied by grilled bread (from Hewn Bread in Evanston) and truffle honey, inspired by the protagonist’s work in a great NYC Italian deli. Next came delicate Squash Ravioli (pumpkin in the book, but Nicole wasn’t happy with the current pumpkin supply) with red quinoa, pea tendrils, goat cheese and buerre blanc. It was a great combination of flavors and textures—and a reminder of the sensual (literally) aspects of Reichl’s fiction. Dessert, of course, was Nicole’s rendition Billy’s famous Gingerbread Cake, and it was beautiful.
The table discussion, moderated by book group leader Dame Judith Hines, started with Dames sharing stories about sensory food memories, both olfactory and aural. Whether it was the smell of Jen’s father’s famous duck dish (complete with buckshot), my grandma’s dill-scented kitchen, Dame Shannon Kinsella’s palpable distaste for dill or Dame Tami Mizrahi’s hilarious family story, it’s clear that we all “associate love with food and family gatherings,” as Dame Mary Kay Gill aptly summed up.
We spoke at length about what we liked about the book (descriptions of food and working at the magazine and deli), and what we didn’t (predictable plot and characters). Some loved the book start to finish, while some had reservations. But all agreed that we are Ruth Reichl fans, especially of her seminal non-fiction trilogy (“Tender at the Bone,” “Comfort Me With Apples” and “Garlic and Sapphires”).
Judith also made sure that we had a great group picture to share with the Chicago Tribune’s “Book Club” feature…we’re hoping that the uniqueness of our group will work in our favor!
We missed all that weren’t there. Many thanks to Judith and Dame Shannon Kinsella for establishing Dames Who Read, and to our host Amy Morton. Hope to see you at the next edition of Dames Who Read; watch out for an Amuse Bouche announcement with the next book and meeting date.