Monday, November 09, 2009

Dear Valerie: Please invite me over.

Inebriate Mondays at HalfSoledBoots
Volume 10, Number 1
by Valerie Peterson
Oh my gosh, what a hilarious book.

The entire point of this handy little volume is to help you cope with the pressures of the festive season. How, you ask? Well, Valerie Peterson thinks the best way to get you into good spirits is to get good spirits into you. And she's got plenty of ideas for the tastiest and most efficient way to achieve this.

It's more than a bartending guide, though, it's a comic romp through winter, from Thanksgiving to Epiphany. There are loads of funny little sidebars, plenty of pictures that, frankly, could have come from the family album of almost anyone I know. Swap out one or two faces, and maybe the wallpaper in the background, and these photos could have been taken in 1968 in my grandmother's house. "Adults," Peterson says, "in the celebratory photos of yesteryear, looked like they were having a good time...what was the secret? I searched and searched and, after a whole hour on the Internet, I found the answer: liquor."

There's a "Mayflower Mulled Cider", whose introduction observes "That fateful gathering in 1621 wouldn't be remembered so fondly if Chief Massasoit and his ninety men showed up year after year, complaining to the pilgrims that the turkey was dry..." Then the "Turkey Tamer" notes that the holiday bird will be fine, "as long as the stressed-out cook remembers to brine. Herself, that is."

For Christmas there are scores of yummy sounding libations, including Scrooge and Cratchit's final-chapter bowl of Smoking Bishop, and the "Emergency Ginerator" for when your light display blows the entire powergrid and you are forced to "review the inconvenient truth of your kilowatt hours."

My favourite one, though is that immortal, controversial "Tom and Jerry". Remember the famous Tom and Jerry post and comment frenzy? Well, we were right - Peterson has you beating the egg white until very stiff, and beating the yolks with sugar and vanilla until thick, light, and creamy yellow. Then you beat in cinnamon, rum and brandy, and mix the whites and yolks back together. Also, you add hot milk, not hot water. Much better, I think.

This book is not only laugh-out-loud funny, it's completely unapologetic about its subject matter. I love that - I expected a certain amount of guilt, especially in these Puritanical times when having a drink to cope means you are suspect of substance abuse, and a candidate for intervention. There's no sign of that here - it's all simply good fun. The unspoken expectation is that you ought to already know about drinking responsibly. The few warnings given in the "Contraindications" section include pregnancy, driving, and maybe church services...other than that, have at 'er!

HSB Highly Specialised Book Rating System
Peterson's Holiday Helper gets:

Reread? Yup!
Given to others? Absolutely!
Bookplate? Yes!



Valerie said...

Now, that may just be the guide to get me through the dreaded holidays.

signed: another valerie

Valerie Peterson said...

Thanks for the wonderful words! So glad you liked the book... and I (heart) Vancouver! Happy Holidays and... Cheers!

kate said...

Sounds like a very fun read. I'm not a cocktail drinker, but the side notes and humour sound like something I'd enjoy.

clumsy ox said...

So we'll give the Tom-and-Jerry another try this year, then. Actually, I'm thinking "later this week," rather than "later this winter."

Let us know if you can get better results than the undrinkable pap I was able to produce last year.

lizbon said...

Sounds adorable, even to a lightweight like me.

Gwen said...

I'm in.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Um, Shannon, you do realize that your grandparents lived on PETERSON road ... coincidence, perhaps not .... spoooooky.