The Gentle Art of Entertaining

Life Magazine’s Picture Cookbook (1958) does not skimp on pictures. They're right there in the title, after all. And it's only by looking at these pictures that I learned how to entertain at home. Thank you, Life Magazine.


Lesson 1: it is easy to make everyone dine at the coffee table as long as the men wear tuxedos and the women wear enormous gowns. However, rude women checking their phones will have to wear pearly gray numbers and sit in a chair against the wall.


Lesson 2: when planning a beach picnic, it is essential to have two enormous wedges of cheese, a loaf of bread the size of a small child, at least nine roast chickens, and a sectional beach table (do NOT substitute a lighter meadow table - your guests will notice!) which means you must have many daughters so that they can haul the necessaries through the dunes. If you get tired, don't worry. Touching the bowl of cherry tomatoes will be enough to bring a smile to your face.


Lesson 3: when having an informal gathering at home you need AT LEAST 13 different snack dishes. Also, if you have a friend who is a foot fetishist, put him in charge of photographing your party.


Lesson 4: opening a thermos can be FUN! It is your job to find joy in everything you do to serve your family.


Lesson 5: glazing a chicken with ketchup should only be attempted by a man. However, while he bastes you will have time to rest your chin on your hand and contemplate the mysteries of existence: why is fire hot? Is it overly sexual to husk your corn before grilling it? Shouldn't someone make little jackets and pants for dead chickens so they are not so shamefully naked? Is there such a thing as cold fire? Should I wait until Gary is asleep before putting a bullet through my brain? Or after? Which room in the house would it be most considerate to kill myself in?