Food for Thought

Feb 07, 2018
Written by cmcguire
Most of us rarely think about the wealth of history and culture that shapes what we eat. This spring, we will explore the relationship between food and what we value about our families and communities in a three-part book discussion series entitled "Food for Thought." The series is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council (KHC), a nonprofit cultural organization, as part of its Talk About Literature in Kansas (TALK) program. KHC is furnishing the books and discussion leaders. Registration is required. To check out books and for more information about the reading series, call 913-682-5666 ext. 2180 or email
The books in this series nourish the mind, the senses and the sensibilities. Participants will reflect on food traditions, recipes and lessons learned around the table that help us define, interpret and question our society.
Empire Falls by Richard Russo - Monday, Mar. 26, 7 p.m.
Discussion leader: Sandra Wiechert, retired teacher and library reference assistant/community relations coordinator, Lawrence Public Library
The book offers a different relationship between food and human interaction. The main character, Miles Roby, runs the local diner, the Empire Grill. A daily parade of customers provides him with ample evidence of both the restrictions and forced intimacy of small-town life. His experiences have left him with a deep appreciation for irony:  his ex-wife’s new paramour, “the Silver Fox,” has suddenly become a loyal customer; his father, always a day late and a dollar short, has talked a senile priest into running off to Key West for the winter; and the diner owner’s daughter, apprised of Miles’ impending divorce, is forever trying to engulf him in a teary embrace.”
Epitaph for a Peach by David Mas Masumoto - Monday, April 16, 7 p.m.
Discussion leader: Deborah Peterson, Chinese language and East Asian civilization instructor, University of Kansas
A true story of how the author decided to give his beloved Sun Crest peach orchard one more year to become profitable. Despite producing sweet, juicy fruits that taste “the way peaches should,” they couldn’t survive the rigors of modern-day grocery cold storage and distribution timetables. The book details his struggle, while addressing the importance of family and learning to work with, rather than against, nature. We learn about Masumoto’s Japanese-American California farming family (including their years in internment camps) and his wife’s German-American family and Wisconsin farm.
Secrets of the Tsil Café by Thomas Fox Averill - Monday, May 14, 7 p.m.
Discussion leader: Gene T. Chávez, Diversity consultant, Chávez & Associates, Kansas City
This coming-of-age story details the life of Wes Hingler, whose parents had one marriage, but two kitchens – his father’s Tsil Café, with its authentic Native American foods, and his mother’s European-heritage catering business. Wes’s search for his own cooking style, and thus his own adult identity, is interwoven with a number of memorable characters, family crises, secrets and a richness of wonderful recipes.
Enjoy our “Food for Thought” series à la carte or as a full meal. Bon appétit.