School of Essential Ingredients by Erick Bauermeister

  • September 7, 2013 · 8:00 AM
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Here are the discussion questions for this meeting.

1. When Claire first walks into Lillian's , she reflects: "When was the last time she had been someplace where no one knew who she was?" Is the anonymity of the kitchen a lure for Lillian's students?

2. Besides scenes from her childhood, the author discloses very little about Lillian. Why do you think she did this? How would the book be different if we knew more about Lillian's day-to-day life?

3. Did Helen do the right thing by telling Carl about her affair? How would their marriage - and Helen and Carl themselves - have evolved had he never learned the truth?

4. Each of the character's stories centers on a dish or an ingredient that has a profound effect upon how they see themselves or the world. What connections do you see between Claire and the crabs? Between Chloe and tortillas? Tom and the pasta sauce?

5. Although we only see Charlie, Tom's wife, in flashback, she seems to share Lillian's love of essential ingredients. What do you make of Charlie's statement that "We're all just ingredients.....What matters is the grace with which you cook the meal"?

6. Isaac says to Isabelle that he thinks "we are each a chair and a ladder for the other." What do you think he means? Are there people in your life who are or have been that for you?

7. Lillian tells the class that "a holiday is a lot like a kitchen. What's important is what comes out of it." In what way do the kitchens in this book - Lillian's childhood kitchen, the greasy spoon where Tom meets Charlie, the kitchen that Antonia saves from demolition - represent different celebrations of life? Is there a kitchen in your life that you associate with a particular celebration or emotional milestone?

8. At the end of the novel, Lillian reflects that "She saw how connected the students' lives had become and would remain. Where did a teacher fit in the picture, she wondered when there is no longer a class?" What does happen to Lillian once her class is disbanded? Do you feel that each character's story is resolved? What do you imagine happens in these characters' lives after the book ends?

9. What would be your essential ingredients?

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  • Meganwind E.

    Didn't read, but loved the discussion

    September 7, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Have from out of to...hope to make next month's!

    September 6, 2013

  • Zee

    Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this meeting, I have to work this Saturday.

    September 6, 2013

  • Leena

    hi, I'm new to the area and am wondering if it will be pretty easy to find the boat rental area? The map link that is provided is at Summerfield Road & Parktrail Drive which looks like it's many blocks south of the park.

    September 3, 2013

    • Marlene M.

      Hi Leena, The boat rental is pretty easy to find.

      September 5, 2013

    • Marlene M.

      Sorry I keep hitting enter and it completes my entry! The boat rental is easy to find just enter Howarth Park from Summerfield road and follow it northeast up the hill. once you are in the upper parking for Howarth Park the boat rentals are on the north side. This is Lake Rapheane not Spring Lake.

      September 5, 2013

  • Roxanna

    Just joined, don't have the book and am #3 on library wait list for it. OK if I come anyway?

    September 1, 2013

    • Marlene M.

      You are more than welcome to come... There might be a few "spoilers" for you though.

      September 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will be at a wedding that day, but I look forward to the next meeting!

    August 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I look forward to a chance to read a new book and meet some new local people!

    August 2, 2013

  • Julie B

    This is one of those books where the subtle wisdom leaves you thinking...

    August 2, 2013

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