If the book doesn't have a food related theme (which you could use to plan your meal around) I have found that a selection of salads and desserts works best - things that can be made ahead and require little last minute prep are the way to go!!!At my last bookclub I served a pavlova with mangos and kiwifruit and my bookclub is still talking about it!!!
Our book club dinners are all about the food. (Book? What book?) Some of my favs were individual meat loaves, salad and individual chocolate lava cakes, a make-your-own taco bar and pitcher of margaritas, a platter of beautiful cheeses and crusty breads. Milk and cookies for dessert is always a favorite.
AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
Are there any restrictions, i.e., specific foods that certain people attending won't eat for political, health, religious or other reasons?
Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.
We usually just do snacks (nuts, hummus, fruit, cookies) for our meetings. But I have a friend whose book club has become a theme competition where the hosts take turns not only leading the discussion, but do themed food, decorations, costumes. They go all out.
I'm a huge dork, so I always try to match the food to the book, if possible. The last time I hosted we read One Day by David Nichols, and I went with a Mexican theme since one of the main characters spends some time working in a Mexican restaurant. For dinner we had a trio of salsas, chips, guacamole, and vegetable enchiladas (suitable for the vegetarians in the group and some of the prep work could be done ahead of time). For dessert I served spicy Mexican Chocolate Brownies with Dule de Leche Ice Cream. Oh and wine. Lots of wine. :)
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
The problem with cooking for groups like these is that there are always some damn vegetarians in there or people who won't touch anything containing anchovies (if you actually tell them). I'm keenly aware of this because I'm lead cook for a community dinner next week and I've had to come up with one vegetarian course, vegans be damned, and I'm planning a roasted red pepper lasagne. Meanwhile I'll be roasting pig for sandwiches for the smart people.
Rosh begins tonight so I shouldn't be talking about pork, but I've found that among my friends it always seems to be the Jewish ones who appreciate pork the most. I don't know why that is.
Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.
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