These are no ordinary parties, which means this is no ordinary cookbook. You’ve got that right. The dust jacket explains that Judith Olney brings wit, whimsy, a flair for the dramatic, an appetite for the offbeat, and the unexpected. You will be the talk of the town if you indulge in Judith’s “entertainments,” as that is what they are, not really parties.
The “culinary events” are inspired by works of art, prose, a special place, or even a child’s toy. For example, Van Gogh’s painting Olive Trees was the inspiration for “Le Grand Aioli” party. To set the scene, spread a buffet table with small patterned Provencal cloth, use rustic baskets and clay pots for serving pieces. Have a display of neatly arrayed vegetables and a simple vase of flowers. The menu will include nicoise olives with herbs, new potatoes, artichokes, green beans, cauliflower, and carrots – served with aioli, of course. A “Monet Water Lily Luncheon” would have a beautiful table setting of glass bowls half-filled with water with floating magnolias or chrysanthemums; starch white napkins folded into a lotus shape; a round table with a lavender, blue, or dusty pink tablecloth; placemats of glass or mirrors, all set outdoors if possible, surrounded by greenery. The parties are all so visual in nature, that if you close your eyes, you can envision each event just as your mind’s eye can see a favored painting at will. Think of what you could do with Van Gogh’s Starry Night. (my favorite Van Gogh)