For Book Clubs

The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat is a perfect choice for your book club or reading group.

One of our main goals in gathering these stories is to broaden the conversation about family food beyond buzz words and manifestos. Instead of thinking about–and judging–what we eat, our writers ask you to think about how, why, and with whom. There are lots of books you can read to learn about sustainable food, but we invite you to think about something different: how to create a sustainable family food culture. Once you’ve read Cassoulet, chances are you’ll realize you’re already doing a lot of things right.  The stories are perfect for starting a discussion about what food means in your family.

We would love to to visit your club in real life, on Skype, or by phone. And we’re happy to talk about what’s of most interest to your members:  the essays in the book, the editing process, food writing, how our own food lives have changed as a result of gathering these stories.

You can contact us at grantandharper AT gmail DOT com to arrange a real or virtual chat.

Some questions to get your group discussion started:

  • Keith Blanchard has a fondness for candy. Chris Malcomb grew up on his mother’s red sauce. Do you have a favorite food memory from your childhood?  What makes it memorable?
  • Deesha Philyaw writes about the challenge she faces when she wants to pass on her significant food heritage to her daughters and keep her daughters healthy. Was there a particular dish that someone in your family made? Do you make this for your family now? Why or why not?
  • A number of writers struggle with the picky eating habits of their children. Do you have a picky eater? Or, like Elrena Evans, a child with significant food aversions? How does your child’s habits affect your family life?
  • Elrena Evans, Jeff Gordinier, and Dani Klein Modisett all write about picky eaters. Do you have one in your family? Do you care that your child is a picky eater? Why? What do you think you can do to broaden your child’s food experience?
  • Libby Gruner writes about the food rules we absorb from children’s picture books. What books or movies have influenced your ideas about food? What are your favorite food stories?
  • Catherine Newman has some terrific suggestions about how to enhance the conversation around the dinner table. Do you eat meals together? How often? How do you promote conversation?
  • The essays by Bethany Saltman, Stacie Sutkin and Barbara Rushkoff consider the meals we share at holidays, but we also share food at smaller moments: to reconcile after an argument or to  celebrate the last day of school. What foods are part of your big and little celebrations?
  • Greg Dicum struggles with the moral choices of eating meat. Are you vegan, vegetarian, or ominivore? Do you have a different diet than your children or other members of your family? Why?
  • Many Cassoulet writers reflect on dishes that remind them of family members who have died. Are there dishes or food rituals and traditions that you associate with a loved one who is gone? What is it about that dish evokes that person?
  • Melissa Clark and Jen Larsen write about learning to cook as adults. When did you learn to cook? Who taught you?
  • K. G. Schneider, Elizabeth Crane and Lisa Harper write about the importance of farmer’s markets in their lives; where do you shop for food? Do other members of your family participate? Why or why not?


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