The Language of Baklava Update and Discussion Questions

28 01 2009

Hello Cook The Books Participants,

I hope the New Year is going well for everyone and you are cooking and eating lots of delicious food and reading great books like our current Cook The Books pick; The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber. A few more weeks to go until February 15th when our posts are due for this book. Hopefully your creative juices are flowing and you are deciding what incredible dish to make to represent this wonderful book. I know we have at least one entry posted already (Thanks Arlene!) and we look forward to seeing more.

I came across some book group discussion questions and I thought it would be fun to post some of the more food-related ones so that we can get some good dialogue started and add to our Cook The Books experience. Feel free to leave a comment (or comments) with your thoughts on any of the questions. (The questions came from: “Let’s Talk About It–We Are What We Eat“, a food related book club and were created by Susan Swetnam, Idaho State University, 2007). Of course you are not limited to just these questions, please feel free to share your thoughts on any aspect of this book and your overall impressions.

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1. In the memoir, Abu-Jaber’s father Bud, constantly uses food to reassure himself that his connection to his origins and family are not lost, and to attempt to connect his children to that heritage. Why, do you believe, does food hold power to forge such connections? What foods remind you of such connections?

2. Some immigrant children reject their ethnic foodways (at least temporarily) in an effort to become Americanized. Despite Diana Abu-Jaber’s temporary rebellions, she never does. Why might that be so, given her larger feelings about her father and her family?

3. One important theme in this book is finding one’s place as a person between cultures. Do you believe that such accommodation happens for Diana? If so, how does she accomplish it? Or does she end up identifying herself more one way than another?

4. Although the themes of The Language of Baklava are serious, the book is full of humor. What does the humor add? Do humor and food go together, in some ways, for you?

Happy eating, reading and discussion! We look forward to seeing everyone’s delicious dishes by February 15th! We are looking forward to Diana Abu-Jaber’s help in choosing our winner for this round! Prizes and glory await!

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