Texas (Cook)Book Festival
Reviewing the Central Market Cooking School
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
by Amy Sedaris
Warner Books, 304 pp., $27.99
Sure, Amy Sedaris is a screamingly funny writer. And the art direction of her entertainment guide matches the copy for hilarity. But this girl needs to get her light out from under a bushel and get out there and promote her book! Has she thought about product placement? Television appearances? What about personal appearances?
We'd be more cynical of the media blitz if the book didn't make us laugh out loud. The back cover of the bottomless-but-for-pantyhose-clad author is your first clue as to its sensibility. The clincher is the inside the jacket pinup of Sedaris festooned with whipped cream and cupcake sprinkles in the most ingenious use of dairy in photography since Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass' Whipped Cream album cover. But that's just the art! The book is for real, as in there are genuine and even tasty recipes divulged. But Sedaris aims to be more of an entertainment guru, albeit the anti-Martha Stewart. The similarities exist, though: Stewart takes us through the paces of the beach clambake, Sedaris the après-theatre event, complete with etiquette suggestions like, "Actors are the most insecure people on earth, next to battered housewives. They become upset if you don't stay after the performance to praise them, but get upset if you inconvenience them by coming into their dressing room to offer them praise while they are still trying to get out of their ham costume." The hearty menu suggestion for after-theatre dining: ham, mac and cheese, baked beans, potato salad. Pedestrian fare, perhaps, but completely correct for hearty, late-night dining.
There's tons more where this came from: "Entertaining the Elderly" in extra-large print, "Unexpected Guests" and tips to get rid of them ("Homosexuals are easy to fool because they have such great imaginations"), "Grieving" (inappropriate thing to say: was he drinking?), etc. Among the recipes is a ridiculously rich and complicated process for rice that calls for two sticks of butter to five cups of rice!
Amy Sedaris will be in the Texas Book Festival Cooking Tent on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2pm. She will be joined by the writer David Rakoff.