“Invisibility has been on humanity’s wish list at least since Amon-Ra, a deity who could disappear and reappear at will, joined the Egyptian pantheon in 2008 BC. With recent advances in optics and computing, however, this elusive goal is no longer purely imaginary. Last spring, Susumu Tachi, an engineering professor at the University of Tokyo, demonstrated a crude invisibility cloak. Through the clever application of some dirt-cheap technology, the Japanese inventor has brought personal invisibility a step closer to reality.” To read more check out Wired: Being Invisible, By Wil McCarthy
The idea of invisibility intrigues us. Scientists work on real solutions to make it happen. Movie makers use the idea because it’s fun and mysterious. Even before science was advanced enough to get close to making it happen, a man named H. G. Wells wrote a book called The Invisible Man to let our imagination wonder at the possibilities and learn second-hand what can happen if we branch outside the walls of normal for the wrong reasons and without enough forethought.
Our literature club read The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells this month. In September, we’ll share an invisible meal and talk about the book. Actually, we will have a real meal that will be quite visible and very tasty.
Menu planning for a book club falls into four categories.
- Books that practically have the menu with recipes planned for you. At Home in Midford was an easy meal to plan. We just bought the cookbook that went along with the series. How easy was that? Food is important to the overall feel of stories like Mitford. The Hobbit is another easy menu to plan, partly because food is abundant in the book, and because so many people have read it in a club setting.
- Books that include enough food items that you can easily substitute your own recipes. Food isn’t the main thing in some stories, but food is talked about enough that you can make a list of food that was mentioned and then dig into your own recipe box and make things you like to eat with those ingredients. Most of the books we read in our classical book club fall into this category or the next. The Great Gatsby was filled with parties that served food. I can’t remember if the specific foods were mentioned, or not, but the fact that it was party food provides enough of a start to get a nice experience planned.
- Books that have been read in book clubs often enough that you can find a ready-made menu online. As mentioned earlier, The Hobbit falls into this category. You might not know exactly what Melton Mowbray Pork Pie is, but a little reading will disclose that it’s sort of like a pot pie. With this information in hand, you can buy a frozen pot pie or make your own. If you read a little more, you’ll learn that the Shire is based on rural England. So, plan a meal with food from that country and then give the recipes fun Hobbit names. The same goes for The Hunger Games. This site has some fun ideas. Our club is reading The Hunger Games this year, and we’ll share our menu when we’re done.
- Books that lend you very little help, like The Invisible Man. If a book has no mention of food, we often use the time period and country to plan the meal. We could have gone that route with this book, but we’ve eaten a lot of English meals lately. Coming up with a themed menu that wasn’t connected to the country is a little harder. The Invisible Man mentions whiskey and a few other food items, but that it isn’t much to go on. Our club is for children, so we probably won’t do much with whiskey. I conducted my usual Internet search. Surprisingly, that didn’t help very much.
I searched using my usual terms:
- Recipes for The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. Nothing.
- Menu ideas for The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. Nothing.
- Food from The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. Nothing.
- Themed meal for The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. Nothing. I decided to try a different route.
- I searched see through food. This brought up some interesting articles. I learned about “see through sushi”. Umm. I’m not so sure I want any. It sure looks pretty, though.
This had never happened to me before. I have always found at least one or two things to spark my imagination, to give me a place to start.
Our meal coordinator, Christy Perkins came up with two really good ideas.
- Use our imaginations and make food that is “invisible” to focus on the theme more than the actual food that was eaten. Jello was the first thing that came to my mind. I know it’s not invisible, but you can see through it. See through sushi? Not gonna happen. Granita, which is like Italian ice, is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water, and various flavorings. This could be a fun and tasty drink.
- Ask the kids to make mental notes of food mentioned in the story and then create menu items in a way that brings the atmosphere and the mood of the book to life.
I think that planning this menu has been particularly challenging because the writer had to show us something about Griffin, and possibly a theme Wells had in mind. For Wells, an invisible man was the ultimate outcast, denied clothing, shelter, and food. Therefore, to show Griffin eating very often in the book would miss the point Wells wanted to make. This fact has given our club the opportunity to rise to the challenge of planning a fun meal that connects to our book of the month. Thanks to Christy, I have no doubt we will have a fun and tasty invisible meal.
I’m excited to see what the kids and parents come up with. If you’d like, I can publish our menu for you after the meeting. Leave a request in the comments, or if you’ve read The Invisible Man, share some food ideas with us.