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Our Parties, Ourselves
on November 23, 2006
Partially a cookbook, partially a primer about entertaining and partially the random thoughts of an eccentric actress/caterer, I LIKE YOU is Amy Sedaris's hilarious guide to hospitality.
Recommended for those who enjoy attending parties and people who get a kick out of hosting them, this is a quirky book that succeeds in offering valuable information while charming the pants off the reader. In this way, it accurately could be described as the bodice ripper of cookbooks.
Chock full of photographs, illustrations, notes and invitations, I LIKE YOU can be enjoyed by randomly opening it to any page, but I can guarantee that if you start it from the beginning, you will find yourself engrossed in Sedaris's simple, tasty party chow and quirky but valuable tips and anecdotes about:
* Party Strategy
The second you decide to throw a party start making ice. Sedaris calls buying a bag of it "cheating."
* The Guest List
If everyone is the same, the party is a boring convention. Still you should avoid toxic combinations, like an astrologer and an astronomer, the newly divorced couple, and a serial killer and a drunken teenager.
Be specific about time, location and themes so guests can dress appropriately. If you don't RSVP immediately, hosts will worry you are waiting for a better offer.
Don't arrive early unless specifically asked to. But do arrive on time, especially for a dinner party. Depending upon the host, consider practical gifts like toilet paper and stamps. If you want to bring wine, ask the hostess what she is planning to serve and bring a bottle of that. If you want to be graceful in an old world sort of way, send a bouquet of flowers the following day.
* Adult Proof Your House
Assume guests will snoop. Plan ahead and fill your medicine cabinet with marbles.
* Try to Turn a Profit
Capitalize on the chance to sell things to a house full of liquored up, generous guests. Set up a table of things you are selling for 25 cents. A strict hostess Sedaris has three rules for party sales: 1) it has to be a quarter, not two dimes and a nickel; 2) you break it, you buy it; and 3) you buy it, you take it away.
Plus completely unrelated to cooking or hospitality, I LIKE YOU covers an array of other idiosyncratic suggestions about curling your eyelashes, staining your lips with cherry popsicles, removing hair color from your forehead, entertaining the elderly, proper rabbit care and the basics of grooming, handicrafts and gift giving. For all of these reasons, I wish I could give it ten stars.
- Regina McMenamin