(This post originally appeared on Persephone Magazine.)
Though I admit to not being all that well-versed in “My Drunk Kitchen” the video series, I still wanted to see how Hannah Hart’s humor translated into book form. I might have aged out of some of this life advice, but her enthusiasm and love of puns still won me over.
“[T]his book is about self-improvement and maybe it can improve itself as it goes along,” Hannah Hart writes in the introduction. “Has a cookbook ever been self-aware? If not, this may be one of the first occasions for it.”
My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking & Going With Your Gut uses food to talk about life, and as far as a standard definition of what a “cookbook” is, this isn’t that. The “recipes” contained within are more about making the best of what you have, and if you screw up in the process, oh well. Lesson learned! And of course, have yourself a tasty cocktail to get through the process.
The book is presented in four parts: Kitchen Basics, Adultolescence, So This Is Love, and Family and The Holidays. The Love section also includes break-ups (and the “recipe” Sad Thai, in which you order Thai delivery and cry into your beer), and the Family portion reveals more about Hart than the other sections. It has more to do with her dating women and how that makes holidays with conservative family complicated.
Each part concludes with a more text-heavy section discussing things like what alcohol does to your body (tidying up the irresponsibility issue some might take with her drinking — in which case, I’d ask why that person even picked up a book called My Drunk Kitchen in the first place), thoughts on eating alone, and why bananas are good.
But are you looking for a coping mechanism to deal with the family that doesn’t involve copious amounts of secret drinking?
Well, too bad! Because here is one of my favorite facts: Bananas are good for lowering anxiety!!!
Bananas are kind like nature’s beta-blocker. A beta-blocker prevents adrenaline from latching onto your beta receptors. This keeps your blood pressure lower and keeps your heart at a steady rate, instead of going into turbo drive when you start to get stressed as a result of feeling anxiety. That’s physiology, buddy.
I also enjoy the recipe Latke Shotkes, since any person who drinks knows that potatoes are the wonder-food for sopping up booze. Hart suggests eating these mini-tot appetizers before heading out for the evening so that your stomach has an excellent starch-based coating. Cleaning out those shot glasses is probably a pain in the ass later, but hey, tiny food = better food, right?
…Which is exactly the point made by her Tiny Sandwiches entry:
For me, one of my main self-qualms is that I’m not the tallest person. But I’m also not by any means the shortest person either. However, for some unfortunate reason I often seem to find myself in the company of rather tall people. Women who average five-ten and men who average six feet. And in my mind’s eye I like to see myself as the height and width of a friendly lumberjack.
I’m not, but good things come in small packages and can bring you lots of tasty comfort. Just like having a tiny sandwich.
And it’s true! Tiny sandwiches, sliders, pizza bites – they’re all better, seemingly because they are tiny. It’s like some weird food law.
The point where I felt like I had aged out of some of the life advice came in the Adultolescence section, but that doesn’t mean it lacks valuable insights. It’s just that — well, I’m 31 with a ten-year-old and a seven-year-old, and I’m also quite comfortable with standing up for myself. There are also some points in the relationships section that don’t really apply to me either. Communicating your needs and loving people for their individuality are lessons I’ve already learned.
However, everyone needs this reminder from time to time:
You might not be at the standard of living that you aspire to achieve. But be patient. And sometimes eat some comfort food that you’ve sliced into a sushi shape.
See? Tiny food wins again.
In the family section, Hart alludes to her father’s discomfort with her being gay, and she talks about how people’s dislike of the holidays is probably because we revisit the baggage of our childhoods. In other words, some people have it easier than others. Again, she advises patience while also acknowledging that she doesn’t necessarily have it all figured out either. There are also some bonus recipes for coming out in “The Gayest Way Possible.”
If you’re looking for actual recipes and some sort of culinary insight, My Drunk Kitchen is not the book for you. But if your pun-loving twenty-something friend/sibling needs to know that it’s okay that she doesn’t really have this whole adulting thing worked out yet, it makes for an excellent gift. Pair it with her favorite boozy beverage, possibly also the book actually called Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown, and your holidays will be that much better.
Full Disclosure: It! Books (now Dey Street Books) sent me this book. I thank them for the gesture, and I will continue to be fair with my reviews.