Review: I Like You

Every Sunday, I review a cookbook in an attempt to lend some guidance in a field that has become overrun. These days everyone is writing cookbooks and it is incredibly upsetting to buy a dud and have it sit on your shelf for years – staring at you, mocking your poor judgment.

When I got “I Like You” by Amy Sedaris, I had a feeling I was in for a treat. I’ve always thought she is really funny but I wasn’t sure how her humor would translate into a cookbook. As soon as I got into though, I realized that this book is more than a cookbook. What is it then? I’m not really sure I can answer that, but there is a lot of stuff in it. Most of it is helpful. All of it is hilarious.

The Art of Hospitality – While this book is very funny, it actually does have some good lessons in it. Amy starts off the book with a small section that includes some tips and tricks for hosting a party successfully. Some of them made me actually laugh out loud. Betsy thought I was crazy.

The section includes possible guest combinations to avoid (Psychologist & psychiatrist or Serial killer & drunken teenager). It includes examples of a party log and even how to write appropriate guest invitations. Of course all of the examples are jokes, but they do get you thinking about all of the elements of a successful party.

It seems like the underlying theme of the section though is to chill out. A lot of people take party hosting a bit to seriously. Most guests are just looking to have a good time and it can be pretty easy and non-stressful to show them that.

Real tips! – Ok. Once you get past the fact that the book is hilarious you’ll find some real tips in this section that are not there just for comedic relief. For example:

Shopping. “Government checks are issued on the 1st and the 15th which means crowds of families on these dates.” Try to avoid it if you are in a hurry
Menu tips. “If the texture of the food you are serving is creamy, flattery it with crispy. Crunchy will punch up soggy.” Good to keep in mind.
Planning. “Don’t do the bulk of your shopping the day of the party. You never know what a store might be out of…”

Of course, before and after these real tips are more hilarious tips. Without a doubt, this was the funniest 30 pages I’ve ever read in a book about entertaining or food. It was a joy to read.

Hospitality in Action – The majority of this book is devoted to parties. About two thirds of the pages are accounts of Amy preparing parties. How she decorates, what she serves, and even what she wears. And guess what. It is funny.

Out of the 23 different events she covers, there are a few that I personally thought were the best.

A Rich Uncle Comes to Visit. I love the idea of entertaining rich people because it is definitely a problem I do not normally have. If I did though, I would be sure to put things on the menu like “Golden Yukon Potato Wedges” and “Carrot Coins.” She also gives some cool tips like running your dishes through the dishwasher on the dry cycle which warms them up like a fancy schmancy restaurant.

Grieving. Who hasn’t needed a good dish for a grieving friend (or yourself). Of course Amy somehow makes even these sad situations funny, but mainly what I like about this chapter is it has some of the best recipes. Out-of-this-world Potato Salad, Zucchini Fritters, and Artichokes Au Gratin are all deliciously featured.

– Entertaining the Elderly. The entire chapter is in like 40 font. It includes such classics as I Remember the War Cube Steak.

What about the Recipes? – At the end of the day, most of the value you could get out of this book will be the recipes (and the good laughs). In general the recipes are very unique. Since each chapter features a full menu, there are a bunch of recipes to go through.

One problem I have with the recipes is that Amy assumes that you have a fair amount cooking experience. She does not give a lot of instruction. She frequently uses phrases like “Cook as you like it.” Well what the heck does that mean? A lot of people need some sort of time guides. But if you have a fair knowledge of food and the kitchen then the recipes aren’t too difficult.

At the same time she does provide directions for some of the more complex recipes so it isn’t as if she just leaves you stranded in the kitchen with nothing but chuckles.

Idea Explosion – I have no idea how one human being could come up with all of the ideas in this book. It is pure insanity. After reading it, I want nothing more than to attend one of Amy’s parties. I have this vision of her walking around in sheer pantyhose serving cocktails in hand decorated martini glasses and giving tips on how to keep my hairline from receding.

It’s that kind of book.

In all honesty, I think the best think you could do with this book would be to give it to someone. It would make a fantastic gift. But maybe not to someone who has an aversion to cussing. Or fun.

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