Join us this summer at the Cook Memorial Library as we pay homage to the ways we celebrate life at the table. During this summer discussion series, we’ll read three books by well-known women who expressed themselves most eloquently when they wrote about food: Julia Child, Ruth Reichl, and Diana Abu-Jaber. 

  • Tuesday, July 6, 6:00 PM: As Always, Julia by Julia Child
  • Tuesday, July 27 6:00 PM: My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl
  • Tuesday, August 24, 6:00 PM: The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber

All discussions will take place outside behind the library. Those who wish to avoid stairs may enter the library, take the lift to the lower level, and use the rear exit.

Copies of each of the books will be available to borrow ahead of time at the library. Participants are invited to read as much as they can, and come to each discussion with a dish inspired by the book for others to try (along with the recipes). Non readers are welcome if they bring food and a story to share from their own experiences in the kitchen or at the table. We’ll have a variety of non-alcoholic beverages available but please bring your own drinking vessels, cutlery, plates and napkins. We will meet outside behind the library for the picnic discussions. In case of bad weather, we will try to reschedule during the same week. 

Summer resident Margo Mallar, who has written and taught extensively about food and beverage in Maine and New Hampshire will start the discussion and lead us in fun food conversation exercises. Interested participants will also be invited to write something about the reading/cooking experience in letter form to the author or another person of their choice. The letters will be compiled into a community memoir of coming to the table in 2021 after the tumult and heartache of the last 18 months. 

As Always, Julia is a compilation of the correspondence between Julia Child and her “pen pal” and literary mentor, Avis DeVoto. The book traces the blossoming of a unique friendship and the turbulent birth of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Frank, funny, exuberant and occasionally agonized, these letters reveal the private voice of the woman the whole world calls by her first name.    

My Kitchen Year is Ruth Reichl’s account of the time after she lost her job at Gourmet magazine when it was closed without warning. “I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened,” she writes. “I disappeared into the kitchen.” 

The Language of Baklava is Diana Abu-Jaber’s story of her life growing up in an extended Arab and American family, exploring the role of food, cooking, and eating in shaping her life.