I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover, 304 pages, 2006

Rating: 9/10

Reason for Reading: A few guest spots on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and a few episodes of Strangers With Candy have resulted in much love for Amy Sedaris (and an impulse buy of the complete dvd boxset of Strangers With Candy).

Synopsis: Why shouldn’t the hostess have as much fun as the guests? In I Like You, Sedaris points out that if you like someone enough to invite them into your home, you want them to have a good time, and this book is packed with some of the wackiest ideas on entertaining you’ll ever see, but also a deep appreciation for cooking and a fine collection of recipes and decorating ideas.

Why you should read this book: I couldn’t even make it through the cover flap without laughing out loud numerous times, and, as I’m sure you can imagine, it just gets better and better once you’re actually reading the book. A book on entertaining that’s actually entertaining, who knew such a concept could be so wonderful – and so needed? I Like You is what you might imagine Martha Stewart on drugs to be like – wildly creative, with none of the intimidation factor, but still extremely concerned that the finished products and meals meet some very high standards. Learn how to feed and entertain a date, children, the elderly, lumberjacks (or just a hungry man), gypsies, club members, out-of-town guests, the grieving, or just yourself, amongst other specialty groups. I’ve successfully prepared a handful of the recipes, including some scrumptious cupcakes, which is good news for Sedaris’s NYC fans that can’t get ahold of them in a local bakery when she’s off acting. Creative sorts will have a blast with the crafts at the back of the book, many of which don’t actually come with directions…but who needs directions when you’re under the influence? The pictures are also spectacular, so there’s a lot to look at if you’re not much of a reader. So much fun, your only trouble will be getting your guests to live up to Sedaris’s dynamic personality and outrageous sense of humour.

Why you should avoid this book: While the content may be funny, the recipes are serious (other than the occasional splash of humour, like directing you that cheese balls should be shaped into ‘tumor-size[d] balls’), and they also assume a basic-to-intermediate level of kitchen-competence and a willingness to adjust ingredients to your own personal preferences. As for the layout of the book, while the hodge-podge nature of the book is part of its charm, it would have been nice if things were better referenced, as the recipes are often far away from pictures and other smaller details can be hard to follow.

Opening paragraph:

Dear [your name here],
Whether you live in a basement with the income of a ten-year-old girl or on a saffron farm in the south of Spain, the spirit of hospitality is the same. It’s the giving of yourself, a present of you to them from me for us.

Fabulous quotes:

I like having a first date in my home. I feel more comfortable when I can control the evening. The goal is to impress him, and this is easier for me when he is on my turf. I can put my skills to work: I can cast a spell. I don’t like a lot of small talk, so I allow my home and homemaking abilities to speak for me. I’m guessing a stranger can get a pretty good idea of who I am by observing the medical wax model of a canker sore I have hanging on a wall, or my antique correction shoe displayed on a bookshelf, or the fact that my place is organized primarily to accommodate my rabbit (see ‘And Rabbits,’ page 179).

As I planned the menu for dinner, my Rich Uncle commented on the broom straw I had just placed through my earring holes. I mentioned that this was a good way to keep the holes from closing until I could scrape up enough money to buy some store-bought earrings or, if that proved too difficult, I could collect some returnable bottles, and with the change, purchase some string that I could use to replace the straw.
The next morning, after my rich uncle left, I was quite surprised to find, in the donation can I had absentmindedly left by the side of his bed, a check made out to me. A good host provides warmth and comfort without expecting anything in return, but occasionally our sincere and honorable actions are rewarded, though not always in the amount that we had hoped and are certain a rich uncle can afford.

Also recommended: Entertaining with the Sopranos by Allen Rucker; Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris; The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh.

Also by this author: The Book of Liz; Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not.

Fun tidbit: Sedaris might look familiar to fans of Sex and the City – she appeared several times as Carrie Bradshaw’s publisher, Courtney Masterson.

Would I read more by this author? If she should ever write more, I’m there.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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