The Philosopher’s Table is a feast for the mind and body. It is a tonic for the soul. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about good conversation, good food, and how to live a good life.
― Andrew D. Kaufman, Author
Picture this. A lively group of thinkers gathers as the music plays—hungry for camaraderie, discussion of a topic of mutual interest, and dinner. Everyone arrives with food and drink contributions that complement the dishes prepared by the welcoming host. Each month another member of the group sets a different cultural table for a new topic, tunes, and food that represents the next stop on their twelve-month philosophical journey around the world. Honest talk and respect for differing perspectives warm each evening. Understanding of the world large and small improves lives—new ways of living present themselves as real possibilities.
Welcome to The Philosopher’s Table: How to Start Your Philosophical Dinner Club—Monthly Conversation, Music, and Recipes, the book that brings together author Marietta McCarty’s love of breaking bread over good conversation, backed by music and the laughter of individuals becoming community. Here’s food for thought and your travel itinerary laid out in twelve chapters:
- The Joy of Single Tasking: January in Japan
- Mental Clarity: February in England
- Persistence and Grace: March in Burma
- Community and the Melting Pot: April in Chicago
- Simple Pleasures: May in Greece
- Liberating Education: June in Brazil
- Spiritual Hunger: July in Iraq
- What About Love: August in Kentucky
- A Fruitful Ecological Solution: September in Kenya
- Rational Decision Making: October in Germany
- A Slow Dance with Nature: November in China
- Dare You: December in France
What can you expect in each chapter? An examination of the central topic, its importance and relevance in our lives…tips for exploring that culture through cinema, sports, geography, history, music, nature…meeting a philosopher representative of that place and particularly suited to further discussion of the dinner topic…suggestions for music to accompany the evening…ideas for what guests may bring…recipes for the host’s preparation that reflect both the topic and the culture…and at the end, a handy list of resources, philosophic, musical, and culinary, for easy reference. Six chapters feature recipes for two small-plate dishes while the others serve up three-recipe meals that always include dessert.
If you like ideas and you like food,
you are holding in your hands an ideal companion.
― Tom Graham, NPR Host
Dining philosophers can’t get enough—of any of it! While most entertain in their homes, restaurants are taking the initiative to host events—a Sunday late afternoon devoted to food from specific regions with a discussion question as the centerpiece of each table. Some dinner clubs occasionally reserve round tables at ethnic restaurants to continue the conversation and the feast.
McCarty extends an invitation to do just what she did while writing The Philosopher’s Table: enjoy practicing the art of clear thinking through dialogue and quiet reflection, listen to and share music, and sample food that takes you to Kenya and Japan, from Brazil to Chicago. Experience the joy of relationship as you pass the carafe—and savor the freedom that comes with an open mind.
Set the table
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The Philosopher's Table
What Authors are saying...
You could say my life has been a succession of big dinners enjoyed with as many of my friends and family that can be squeezed around the table—all eating, talking, and laughing. I have sometimes wondered which part I enjoy the most. Is it the tasty meal, the flowing wine, or the boisterous conversation that so often ensues as a result of the first two elements? Marietta McCarty goes at it rather brilliantly from another angle, encouraging you to put the lively conversation first. Choose a philosophical topic from her book, and it comes matched with a dinner menu and music list. Invite a few friends, neighbors, and colleagues, and voila! Welcome to the first seating of your own Philosophy Dinner Club.
― Tom Douglas, Executive Chef, Restaurateur, and Author
In The Philosopher’s Table, Marietta McCarty serves up big ideas in delicious, easily digestible nuggets, while making the world’s most revered philosophers utterly real and relatable. A knowledgeable philosopher who wears her learning lightly, McCarty is also a fun and generous host who’d rather chat with you over a glass of chardonnay than lecture at you in a classroom. The Philosopher’s Table is a feast for the mind and body. It is a tonic for the soul. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about good conversation, good food, and how to live a good life.
― Andrew D. Kaufman
Author of Give War And Peace A Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom For Troubled Times
The Philosopher’s Table is enchanting and… a well of information for what I want to write about next. It’s a bulls-eye gift. Very small. Very smart. Very self-assured.
― Beatrix Ost
Author of My Father’s House: A Childhood In Wartime Bavaria
Testimonies from the Table
Marietta, Dave, Parker and I hosted our first Philosopher’s Table dinner last night, and (we believe) a great time was had by all! We invited several PVCC friends, and we were delighted by the variety of conversation about Zen and surprised by the wonderful selection of themed food that showed up. We gathered at 5:30, and the last guests left at 10:30! We also enjoyed decorating with Japanese-theme flowers, candles and our best “Japanese” clothes! Multiple copies of Zen Mind and the Philosopher’s Table were in evidence around the table.
We surprised our guests with two minutes of silence (“za-zen”) at the table before the first course was served, then asked everyone to write down a question about the text that they wanted to have the group address during the conversation. We had a note card and pen by each place setting. This turned out to be a good technique, as sometimes the conversation wandered, and our guests often helped us bring it back to the topic at hand by raising the question they had written down at the beginning of the evening. Our party included 3 children, and they participated in the question writing and discussion before excusing themselves while the adults talked on.
We’ve already sent out our invitations for next month (to a completely new guest list). We are very much looking forward to the next dinner.”
― Erin Hughey-Commers
When our book group pondered continuing our monthly philosophical discussions with The Philosopher’s Table as our guide, there were some raised eyebrows, ah’s and oh my’s!, followed by “What? Do I have to cook?” We had just completed your book, How Philosophy Can Save Your Life, and very much wanted to use your third book for our book club.
In order to continue our journey with you, we chosen to have our discussions in restaurants in our community where we could experience the flavors of the different countries, if not the exact recipes offered in the book. If we could not find a restaurant serving food specific to the country of the month, we improvised to find one that served the food of that country. For example, we have no Brazilian restaurant in town, but we have a restaurant that serves the delicious fish tacos and bean salad suggested in your book, so we met there for June’s discussion of “Liberating Education.”
We found that by having our food prepared for us we could “single task” as you encourage, allowing us to put our time and focus on our discussions. Our solution of holding our philosophy tables in a restaurant instead of our homes enabled us to have a year of (to quote the author!) “clear thinking, quiet reflection and good conversation”.
PS. I’ve tried, and loved, many of the recipes in The Philosopher’s Table. Now my secret is out!
― Susan Johnson
What readers are saying...
Talking with Marietta is always GREAT fun. And reading this book is almost as much of a joy as having her in the room with you. If you like ideas and you like food, you are holding in your hands an ideal companion.
― Tom Graham
Host of “Virginia Insight” on WMRA, NPR
[Marietta] tells, but she shows more than she tells. For anyone who fears philosophy or feels unable to find an entry to philosophy, the author provides an easy way in through culture, music, food, and conversation. The writing mirrors the subject matter: clear, thoughtful, musical, sensory. The author gives, and the reader gets it.
― Daniel J. Meador
The entire study of Eastern and Western Philosophy is suddenly turned on its head by this simple book. How can anyone hope to understand the philosophy of a culture without ’trying on’ the rest of the culture? Bertrand Russell without Elvis Costello and Earl Grey? Kant without Bratwurst and Strauss? Impossible. How is it that no one has made these connections before?
― Matthew Mudd
My significant partner and I have been enjoying using this wonderful book as a knowledgeable guide this year to prompt great conversation, community, and food. In some ways, the book is very much like the director’s notes a playwright provides. A setting is provided for the actors, as are suggestions for music, movies, and other informative and relevant cultural pointers. Each chapter is a rich new opportunity to explore “philosophers” that may not be the first ones that leap to mind but illustrate the author’s chosen topic beautifully.
― David Lerman
[The Philosopher’s Table] impresses me in several ways. First of all, your breadth of knowledge not only of philosophy but of culture in general – people, places, music, food…is huge! Secondly, I’ve enjoyed the quotes from students and other “philosophers,” which bespeak a very clear-thinking and powerful teacher. So, I applaud your lifelong learning and communication.
― Babbie Shelton
Thank you for providing this delightful roadmap to adventure.
― Dee Bogetti
What a great find: philosophy, recipes, music and dinner party conversation starters! Once again, author Marietta McCarty opens up philosophy to the masses, to hearts and minds alike. I can’t wait to gift this book for the holidays–it’s an especially great gift for hosts and hostesses who will appreciate the beauty of this simple and elegant book. The easy to digest pages of wisdom encourage me to call my friends for gathering. Now I can easily delegate deliciously selected dishes to complement conversational themes, and all the while this attractive paperback can sit handily nearby on my nightstand or coffee table.
― Rachel Gerny
West Hills, California
I find my all time favorites in The Philosopher’s Table: Thoughtful conversation, delicious food, and new music! It’s a book I keep close to inspire meaningful discussion on a daily basis with my partner. This book is full of wit and wisdom. It brings accessibility to worlds close and far away, and an appreciation for cultures and philosophies old and new. I love the responsibility that the author is putting on me as the reader, she asks readers to bring life to the wisdom of these great philosophers – have some friends over for dinner, put away the phones, and enjoy the best things in life: our minds and our friendships…and our palates!
― Kristen Brooking
[The Philosopher’s Table] is giving many people just what they need but also crave – a philosophical intellect and way of thinking that becomes everyday – for everyone as part of our lives – taste, tactile, inquisitive, questioning in the workplace, home and kitchen for us all. A sensuous feast in every way.
― Maura Duffy
Over the past few years, I’ve met so many people who prize informal education, and who consider themselves lifelong learners. How amazing is it that there are writers like you out there to show them the beauty of philosophy (the food part really doesn’t hurt either)!
― Amy Leask