Books All Over

What We Talk about in “Let’s Talk About It”

By Ron McFarland

Was it Joanne Harris’s Chocolat or Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate that I presented at Sandpoint in 1997, one of roughly eighty sessions of the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ “Let’s Talk About It” (LTAI) series in which I was a presenter to Idaho’s municipalities over the past thirty years? I do recall the splendid array of chocolate candies and desserts the participants offered up. And possessor of a notorious sweet tooth that I am, I suspect discussion of the title in question fell into sugary digression more than once.

Diana Abu-Jaber’s food memoir, The Language of Baklava (2005), constituted a virtual demand that someone provide that particular pastry for the event, and I enjoyed quite a tasty run, starting at Nezperce on October 23, 2007 and moving on to Priest River and Sandpoint.

Those books were among eleven popular titles grouped under the theme, “We Are What We Ate.” From maybe five or six such themes thirty years ago, the choices have blossomed to fifteen reading and discussion themes available for download, each of which includes essays, book descriptions, author information, discussion questions, and lists for further reading.

Presenting last February in Grangeville on Mark Winegardner’s anthology, We Are What We Ate (1998), which provided the title for that theme, I was impressed and handsomely fed by an array of dishes that reflected some of the meals mentioned in the twenty-four short essays. The essays led to a plethora of fascinating childhood memories among the fifteen participants and to a very curious array of responses to my question, “What was the most unusual thing you ever ate?”

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Ron McFarland

About Ron McFarland

Ron McFarland is professor emeritus at the University of Idaho, where he started teaching literature and creative writing in 1970. Pecan Grove Press published his fourth full-length book of poems, Subtle Thieves, in 2012. His critical books include Appropriating Hemingway (2015) and Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars (2016).

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