Second Discussion: Claire
The Glen Ivy Book Club is reading The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
June 18: Claire
This week we have our first introduction to a student of Lillian’s cooking class as Claire, a young wife and mother of two small children, makes her way to the class with more than a little hesitation. As the thoughts of guilt and worry of leaving her children for a few hours slowly fade to the background, we see that Claire’s real struggle lies with the loss of self that often accompanies the life of a young mother. Once a woman brave enough to make the first advance toward a man “replete with success,” Claire now feels invisible to the world, her individuality set aside to make room for the lives of her children and husband. Although Claire possesses a deep love for her family, the shattered feeling of her loss of self is mirrored in the shattering of the crab that is the subject of that night’s meal. As the live crustacean is cracked open and dies to the life once known in a scene that may not be easy for all to read, we then witness the transformation of the crab as it is mixed with the right ingredients; the flavors slowly blend, creating something new, nourishing and beautiful…as this transition takes place, Claire finds her own transformation…she is not completely what she once was but still beautiful, complete in a different way, nourished by the seasoning of life experience and change.
Have you ever felt that food or cooking mirrored a life transition for you? Is there a meal that you turn to in times of change in your life? If so, what emotions does the food or meal evoke?
In this chapter we also learn that Lillian does not use recipes. Do you use recipes or do you cook by taste and “feeling?” Why or why not?