June 11th: Prologue & Lillian
In this first week, we’ll discuss the prologue and first chapter of The School of Essential Ingredients, both of which introduce us to restaurant owner and cooking school instructor, Lillian. The prologue sets the scene for the impending class; as we meet Lillian she is preparing for the first night of class and we learn that Lillian has been teaching cooking classes for seven years. The description of the scene seems to indicate that Lillian knows the routine of welcoming a new class of students and greets it with familiarity; do you sense that there may be something different about this class? Is there any indication that Lillian may experience transformation along with her students?
As we move in to the first chapter of the book, we become privy to how Lillian learned the alchemy of cooking. An absent father and distant mother left young Lillian to discover much of life on her own, and, as children tend to do, she relied on her senses to guide her. Aromas, scents and smells are Lillian’s prevalent way of relating to the world. What role do they play in your life? Do aromas spark memories for you? What is the aroma of your favorite memory? Do you think Lillian’s reliance on aroma and love for cooking would have developed had she had a more traditional upbringing? Do you agree with Abuelita’s statement to Lillian that her cooking skills were a gift from her mother?
Hope you’re enjoying the book in these first few pages and I look forward to hearing your thoughts thus far.