Olives at Nana Longos and The First Meeting of the Local Book Club

A month or so ago, the Friday night happy hour gang were a wine or two into the evening, and we decided to begin a book club.  Spiritual books, we thought, but not necessarily.  (Knowing the group, I might have dangled the metaphysical angle before them like a juicy peach, but we will not say that aloud.)   I also might have sort of pushed the first book choice, Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, which is so charming I didn’t know how anyone could possibly not enjoy it.   (Not quite correct, as it turns out.)

Since I might have suggested so much, I also offered to host it at my house this time, and it gave me the most luscious excuse to stop by Nana Longo’s Italian Market, which is in a little shopping center I stop in for other reasons.  It has tempted me for ages, but I knew what would happen when I went in–I would dive into all that real salami and fresh mozzarella balls and beg for pizzelles, and I would waddle out like a landed whale.   But what a perfect excuse–my friends coming over to talk about a book that has an entire section devoted to eating in Italy!

The shop is long and narrow, tucked at the end of an ordinary strip mall in an ordinary city, but there were those beautiful salamis behind the glass, and bowl upon bowl of olives, and tiny cookies shaped like sunflowers with apricot jam in the middle, and yes, fresh mozzarella.  It made me painfully homesick for Pueblo for a little while and I said to the young man behind the counter, “I lived in Pueblo for a long time, and I miss the Italian food there.”  He perked up and patted his chest, and happily informed me that Nana Longo is his grandmother who was in Pueblo.  His dad started the place up here and named it for his mother.  It’s funny, all the Italians/Sicilians in Pueblo.  Such great, great food, such a rich culture.  I was so happy to discover the link to Pueblo, and he was so happy to provide it, and it is the kind of shopping I miss up here.

I brought home lusciously garlicky salami and a pile of olives and cheese.  There were tiny, beautiful cookies, too, but I’m afraid they didn’t make it to the party.  They were so delicious CR and I had consumed the entire dozen before anyone arrived.

Two participants did not finish the book in time.  One thought it was predictable, three of us thought it was sublime and have read it more than once, pressed it into the hands of anyone we can get to stop long enough.   It stimulated excellent discussion, some heated, some full of hilarity, and we will meet again soon.

Do you meet with a book club?  What do you eat and drink for it?

Creative Commons photo by Stu Spivak

4 thoughts on “Olives at Nana Longos and The First Meeting of the Local Book Club

  1. I adored Eat, Pray, Love! Also like you, when book group meets at my house, I like to use a theme from the meeting’s book choice. For The Secret Life of Bees, I had all kinds of things made from honey. I even found crackers made with honey. And for Anne Tyler’s Digging to America I did a middle eastern theme with stuffed grape leaves and baklava and hummus. I like the food at our meetings almost as much as talking about the books.

  2. Ooh, that makes me want to choose Secret Life of Bees, just to have the honey. We are alternating between spiritual books and other things, so perhaps one month..

  3. Yvonne Erwin

    Well, had to drop a comment here. I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love but it’s on my list and I plan on looking it up at our local Barnes & Noble. It sounds divine.

    I can respond to The Secret Life of Bees and Digging to America, though. I’ve read both and loved them. I can’t say enough how I really love Anne Tyler, how she flies under the radar and points out how human we are. I loved the clash of cultures, each one bringing its own gift, each one having its own jewels to reveal and to share. The Secret Life of Bees was similar to me, in that it revealed the fragility of human beings.

    There are sporadic book clubs here in Spfd, Mo. Nothing really lasts,unfortunately. I wish it would because I’d love it and host it or whatever it needed. The written word is so important. Without it, there are no dreams.

    What do you think?

  4. Barbara

    Yvonne, book clubs are genuinely nourishing, yes. As is the written word. Well, and talking, come to that, so talking about books and having food we wouldn’t have a chance to present is very rich indeed.

    I have also noticed, in my conversations with various book clubs over the years, that a long-term group provides a circle of support for the people involved.

    Can you see particular reasons the book clubs in your town seem to drift apart?

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