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Book Club Wed Oct 08 2008

Dirty Sugar Cookies Discussion Questions

I hope you all were able to find copies of Ayun Halliday's Dirty Sugar Cookies. For those that weren't but still want to come to the meeting, perhaps we can read aloud some of our favorite passages so that everyone can get an idea of what this memoir is all about. Below are the questions we'll use to discuss the book at our meeting next week.

  • What do you think is Halliday's idea of comfort food? What do you think she means when she writes "No matter what the Thanksgiving issue of Gourmet would have us believe, comfort food is not always what one grew up eating or, more accurately, refusing to eat" (p. 3)? Do you agree? What does "comfort food" mean to you?
  • In "Courtesy Bite" (p. 25), Halliday remembers her grade school lunch room politics. How do mealtimes create a social hierarchy? How does that change when she gets to seventh grade and has an unmonitored lunch period?
  • How do Halliday's experiences at the cafeteria with her grandparents work as a sort of coming of age? How does this work to grow her food adventurousness?
  • What happens when Halliday first eats spanakopita? Have you ever had a similar food epiphany?
  • How does Halliday link her food advertures to her life adventures? It this way of recounting her travels and past relationships through the food that was shared an effective way to convey the tone of the memory?
  • What did you think of Halliday's affair with vegetarianism? Did it have anything to do with concern for animals or was it something different? What does the vegetarian lifestyle mean to her?
  • How does Halliday deal with food restrictions during her pregnancies? Is there any vindication in her reading about the listeriosis outbreak?
  • In "A Different Kind of Chicken," what is the importance of finding her grandmother's recipe box? What do the recipes inside tell her about her grandmother?

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