The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola, Modern Library

Emile Zola's The Belly of Paris whisked the Wednesday Night book club to the Paris of the mid-1800's faster than a speeding hansom cab. Set in the famous Les Halles - a bustling food market that featured all manner of vendors peddling their wares - Zola's earthy novel creates a world where the culinary gap between the prosperous and the poor becomes a metaphor for the politics of the time. The plot features plenty of intrigue. But what sets the book apart is the lavish, full-bodied descriptions of selling, preparing and eating food.

The novel has always been one of Barbara-jo's favourites. "I consider food to be the center of life," she says. "And the book captures the true spirit of that philosophy." Members of the book club appreciated the feeling of being transported to another time and place. A sensation that was greatly enhanced by Glenys's evocative menu. The menu included a starter of Gougere, followed by a Lentil, Watercress, Frisee and Lardon Salad With Garlicky Vinaigrette, Potage Verts Au Pistou and Creme Brulee. A fitting tribute to Zola, whose skill with a knife and fork rivaled his way with a pen.