Slicker, sharper and less sentimental than other books I’ve read by Kaui Hart Hemmings, her latest, How to Party With an Infant, makes for entertaining reading.
Recipe blogger, Mele Bart, is single mum to two-year-old Ellie. When she was pregnant, Mele’s boyfriend, Bobby, announced his engagement – to another woman (an artisan cheese-maker from the Napa valley). Bobby wants Ellie to be the flower-girl in his wedding and Mele reluctantly agrees.
To take her mind off the upcoming nuptials, Mele enters a recipe competition run by the San Francisco Mother’s Club. She uses cooking as therapy – for both herself and her own circle of ‘mummy friends’. As her friend Annie says, “Mele’s going to take your despair and turn it into cupcakes.”
There were laugh out loud moments in this book –
“God you look so good!” Maggie says. “Did you get divorced?” she asks in an exaggeratedly sardonic, drag queen sort of way.
“”No, no. I’ve been doing Pilates. It’s such a good workout…”
“They have organic cane,” I said. “That’s just a fancy way of saying sugar. It’s sugar in disguise.” The room was silent. A baby coughed. It was like I had offered a bunch of anorexics a hoagie.
As well as plenty of bits that I’m not ashamed to say I identified with –
“These meetings are two Tuesdays a month, and you are expected to attend every one.”
I quickly scanned my brain to think of what TV shows were on Tuesday night. It was a slow night, thank God, but then I thought of spring. American Idol auditions!
This book isn’t perfect – the structure is clumsy and I’m not entirely convinced it works (the story is told through Mele’s anecdotal responses to questions on the cookery competition entry form) – but the humour is on point and Hemmings gives you enough identifiable parenting-moments that endear you to Mele –
I used to like going to movies, having sex, shopping, but now, as you know, I have a baby. My current interests are crosswords, heavy snacking in front of the television after Ellie goes to bed, thinking of possible Saturday Night Live skits, hunting for the best soda fridges in town, strolling in grocery stores… I am also interested in television and not in an ironic way. Certain shows on Bravo make me say out loud: “My God, I love America.”
3.5/5 The foodie element gave the mum-lit an edge.
I received my copy of How to Party With an Infant from the publisher, Simon & Schuster via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
“I made Henry a Croque Monsieur, which translates into ‘crispy mister’. Just a ham and cheese sandwich, but béchamel’s the opposable thumb of the meal, making a primitive thing into something deliciously evolved.”
As part of the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge, I’m comparing the Belfast summer and the Melburnian winter – the results for the day I finished this book (August 26): Belfast 11°-19°, Melbourne 7°-15°.