A Taste of Friendship

Please welcome guest bloggers Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel, authors of the novel The Recipe Club. Come back to TSI on Thursday to find out how you can enter to win The Recipe Club Sweepstakes–the grand prize is a dinner for your book club at a restaurant in your town.

Friendship is a complicated matter—and for that matter, so is food. Which is why, when we decided to write The Recipe Club: A Novel of Food and Friendship, we set out to explore the relationship between the two.

We did this by wrapping a novel around a cookbook—with more than 80 delicious recipes. The fictional plot follows the lives of two characters, Lilly and Val, and their quest to maintain a life-long friendship despite enormous differences in personality, character, and dreams. Creating a two-person Recipe Club, they share intimate stories—and recipes—that exemplify the complexities of their relationship.

Each recipe demonstrates how food, friendship, and feelings are inextricably intertwined. There are, of course, the happy times, like when Val first falls in love; she expresses her joy and excitement by sending Lilly a recipe for “Wild Girl Mushroom Salad.” Or when Lilly receives public praise for a stage performance, she shares a recipe for “Rave Review Ravioli.”

But because we wanted to take an authentic look at both the light and dark sides of friendship, we also included recipes that reflect difficult emotions. Lilly describes the pain of witnessing her parents’ out-of-control rage in her recipe, “Smashing Smashed Potatoes”; it’s comfort food for an uncomfortable experience. And when Val is overcome with adolescent insecurity, resentment, and feelings of abandonment by Lilly, she sends the following letter and recipe:

Dear Lilly,

I haven’t heard from you once in more than two weeks. Why aren’t you returning any of my calls? Have you eloped with that French guy, Guy? The last I heard, Ben saw you at the movies. He said you were so busy making out, you only saw two out of the Five Easy Pieces.

Maybe if I send you a recipe for the Recipe Club you’ll remember who I am? So here goes. Don’t let the name make you think it has any hidden meaning or anything. It’s a coincidence, of course.


Serves 6

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds escarole, trimmed and rinsed
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
Grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper

  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, warm the oil.  Add the escarole and garlic.  
  2. Cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until meltingly tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Season with the lemon zest and juice, the salt, and pepper to taste.

We’ve been overjoyed to hear from fans of our book who have created real-life Recipe Clubs of their own. Just like our characters do, they have shared tales (with recipes!) of both unrequited and eternal love…family drama to beat the band…and memories of connecting deeply with children, parents, grandparents, and friends. If you would like to see and read some of their stories–or share one of your own–just log onto our website.

One Response to “A Taste of Friendship”
  1. This is a great book, I really enjoyed thumbing through it. Thanks for bringing other people’s attention to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: