February Book Club

February 24, 2010 at 3:03 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I had another book club meeting last week and figured it was time for a new book/restaurant review on this here blog.  This meal took place at Kan Zaman, which is a Lebanese place downtown.  As an interesting aside, I took the Brown Line on the L to get there and it dropped me off at the Merchandise Mart, which I was not exactly expecting.  Typically the L drops off at a standard looking train platform, usually outdoors, but this place was deep within the bowls of the Mart, which is absolutely huge.  I had never been to this particular stop and was more than a bit confused.  It sort of reminded me of Harrod’s in London, if you’ve ever seen that place.  When the Merchandise Mart opened in 1930, it was the largest building in the world (that’s it there in the foreground).  It’s now the 25th largest building on the planet, which I still think is rather impressive.  There’s office space and shopping galore, and if I hadn’t been pressed for time I would have happily wandered around for a while.  I suppose I’ll save that for another day.  Anyway, the train dropped me off here and it only took me fifteen minutes to find my way outside to the street.  Then it was off to Kan Zaman.

Kan Zaman is a BYOB Lebanese place.  I didn’t encounter BYOB restaurants until I moved to Chicago, and now I adore them.  You can drink as much as you want and not have to worry about paying outrageous drink prices, which is fantastic.  Our group of eight ladies each brought a bottle or so of vino, so we had quite the little party going at our table.We all shared a vegetarian appetizer which featured humus, pita bread, falafel, spinach with rice and more.  For the main course, I had a spinach dish with bulgur wheat and I was able to enjoy the leftovers for two more days (or, to use a colloquialism I often get teased for, I ate on it for two more days).  The atmosphere of the place is authentic and comfortable and if we hadn’t been such a large group we would’ve taken advantage of the floor style seating in the place (yup, you have to remove your shoes).  I heard that they sometimes have belly dancing too, and that you can get up and join.  I would love to do this (quit your laughing) so I’ll be going back to this fine establishment at some point in the future.

The book we read for this month was The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera.  It was a dream-like, ethereal novel about a man who has a hard time staying faithful, the woman who loves him, the mistress who wants him and a married man who wants the mistress.  There was also a female dog who was named after a male literary character and referred to using masculine pronouns.  It wove all of these characters together by giving snippets and snapshots of their histories and lives.  It also contained a good deal of philosophy and deep thinking, which some in the group disliked but I found provoking (for the most part).  However, it was slightly confusing  at times and differentiating between what was being told as a dream sequence and what was actually supposed to have happened was often a bit difficult.  I agreed with some of the other book clubbers that I would probably get more out of it during a second read-through, but alas the Chicago Public Library was anxiously awaiting for the its return so I’ll have to get to that another time.  Apparently this book was also turned into a movie, which I would also like to check out.  It didn’t seem like an easily adaptable novel so I’m sure it would at least be interesting to watch.

All in all, another enjoyable book club meeting.  To end, I’d like to share another picture of the Merchandise Mart simply because I’m astounded I didn’t know about this place before, I think it’s quite cool and well…I can.  Here you go!

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