My sister is having her book club tonight for a discussion of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I suggested the book because I loved the images of the black and white circus redolent of exotic spices, magic and mystery. Despite huge sales of The Night Circus, I guess there are mixed reactions: my mother said her own book club wasn’t fond of it and my weekly group at the Carnegie Center wasn’t sold on it either.
I admit, the plot is confusing and perhaps the basic love story of two magicians creating a world within a circus as part-competition, part-sacrifice is a bit strange. But the imagery created by Ms. Morgenstern, possibly due to her years of stage experience, pulled me in and kept me bound to the story.
My sister asked for some help with a black and white menu for her group tonight and this is what I suggested:
Popcorn drizzled with dark chocolate
Bagel chips smeared with cream cheese and topped with black caviar
Steamed white asparagus sprinkled with poppy seeds and lemon juice
Squid ink pasta in alfredo sauce
Chicken breasts wrapped in whole spinach leaves
Black and white cookies (store-bought) for dessert
The only tricky parts of the menu would be the asparagus and chicken. Trim the asparagus ends first, by holding the end and bending. Where it snaps naturally leaves you only the tender part of the spear to cook. You will want to wait to cook them until right before you are ready to serve. I steam mine in an asparagus steamer for 3 boiling minutes, then turn off the heat and let the asparagus sit for a few more minutes. Place the spears on a plate, douse with lemon juice and poppy seeds just before you serve them.
On the chicken, use whole skinless, boneless breasts and season with salt and pepper. Place the breasts on the spinach leaf (or leaves) and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Wrap the leaves around the chicken to create a cooking packet and drizzle the exterior with more olive. Drizzle, don’t drown. Then place in a pre-heated 375 degree oil. Cook for 15 minutes per side.
I would also serve hot chocolate with fresh cream and strawberries to give a nod to the Circus followers’ red neckties.
Tears of a Clown, Smoky Robinson
The Show Must Go On, Three Dog Night
Wild Billy’s Circus Story, Bruce Springsteen
Circus, Britney Spears (UGH, I know)
Circus, Tom Waits
and there’s always the cast albums from Pippin and Barnum
I’d love to see this as a movie. Caitriona Balfe who is magnificent in Outlander would make a fine Celia. And I suggest Hugh Dancy as Marco.