Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hostess with help from imaginary chickens and pigs

Feeling helpless? I've got just the thing!

Hostess Without Help (Helen Worth, 1971) promises to to let readers enjoy the party with their guests, even if they can't afford help. If you look at the cover, taking in the smiling fish pressing its nose against a carrot, the enormous chickens dancing around the tiny pig, the peg-legged sheep sniffing a mushroom, and the rabbit getting ready to vault over a beet to startle a drugged-out owl, you may figure out that the promised party recipes are not why I chose this book. I got it because I'm in love with Sylvan Jacobson's illustrations.

Yes, some of the recipes are interesting...

This is the type of book that suggests turning caviar into a bombe with the help of instant onion, lemon juice, beef bouillon, and, of course, gelatin.

It's also the type of book that illustrates the idea with a picture of a fish who thinks a Bombe of Caviar sounds groovy.

It's the kind of book that suggests an easy way to impress guests with turtle soup:

Mix canned turtle soup with puréed frozen peas and a bit of sherry!

And of course, get a little turtle to look on with a surprising amount of approval.

The best pictures are often on their own, though, standing outside of specific recipes. If the thought of working all alone on a party is overwhelming, the book provides some adorable (if imaginary) waiters:

The chicken and pig theme is the most common one. Those little guys can help with anything-- even building up a fire for the fondue pot:

You've got to love the chicks struggling with their loads of kindling and the pig carrying a whole load of logs over its head. Even the fondue pot is smiling!

My favorites might be the funny chicken-and-pig pictures that actually go with weird-ish recipes. Here's an interesting use for sherbet that Betty Crocker wouldn't dream of:

Regardless of whether you're sold on a sherbet/ white wine/ rum float, this pig being served by an extremely strong chick seems ready for more!

I'm not sure whether the other chicks have gotten into the punch even though they're clearly underage, but enough of them seem to be precariously perched that I would guess so.

If you're not a fan of whimsy, this book will make you break out in hives. I just want to take this book to park, lie on a blanket, and spend a few hours gazing at the sky with it as we tell each other our deepest chick-related secrets.


  1. I'm thinking this place is a post-apocalyptic earth where mutant animals are now roaming the earth. Great find, Poppy!

    1. It's a much cuter post-apocalyptic world than we usually see.

  2. Now you've got me wanting to own this book (for the art, not the recipes)! The wonderfully weird artwork and the stoned chicks remind me of the psychedelic sixties. I would not want to relive that era, but it is nice to reminisce.

    I love the pig and chicken waiters - I wonder if I can teach my chicken to wait on table. I don't have a pig, but maybe my horse could substitute. I would NOT trust my dogs, as no food would ever make it to the table!

    I might have to get myself a bottle of that Falernum syrup (it is available on Amazon!). I think I would even try the recipe for Trinidad Spiked Sherbet, of course avoiding that notable diluter known as ice!

    1. I'll bet chickens would get distracted and just drop everything, and then the dogs would come in to clean up.

      I'm glad you found a recipe you might actually want to try!

  3. The grown-up version of Cinderella. Everyone gets a little loopy, and the animals do all the work.

    1. I'm just amazed at how happy they are to help, considering the number of recipes that feature them.