A few years back I received quite possibly one of the single greatest cookbooks ever written, a birthday gift from the personal collection at Rabelais Books. Across its hallowed pages, Barbie shares her quick and easy recipes for ten exclusive, fun-filled occasions that will surely rival the likes of historic bacchanals hosted by Antonin Careme, Caligula, and Francois Mitterrand to name but a few.
Naturally, this tome has found a place of honor in my collection.
Yes, planning a party is fun, and there is no denying that the insider knowledge Barbie provides regarding everything from finding a date to agree on and who to invite, are invaluable. Further investigation beneath the surface reveals much, much more. If you pry deeper into Barbie’s stories you will find recurring themes such as lust, deception, and antagonistic peacocking intertwined amid seemingly innocent themes like “Garden Tea Party.”
I am here to be your tour guide to what Barbie is REALLY telling you.
In the forward, Barbie sets the stage by laying out key elements to the process, beginning with the all-important parental permission. It is important to note that Barbie does NOT emphasize the need for honesty in this regard. Once this has been secured, she recommends that you move on to the following:
“Try to choose a day that doesn’t conflict with another event, that is free for your parent(s) and that is okay with almost everyone you want to invite (there are bound to be friends who can’t come so don’t be discouraged). If you’re planning a slumber party, remember that you will need to keep two days open.”
One thing Barbie leaves out here is the need to remind your “friends” that if they choose to decline their invitation, it will likely be the last party they are ever, ever invited to. If they should have the audacity to then attend “another event” instead, the resulting smear campaign that you will unleash upon them will render them socially poisonous for years to come. Though the full two days isn’t entirely necessary, it is a perfect way to make sure that your guests do not make any other potentially distracting plans.
Number of Guests
“The best parties are always those with your closest friends and a few new acquaintances, such as the talented girl in your ballet class or the twins who just moved in across the street! By inviting these people, you get to know them better and they get to meet new people. Send out your invitations or call your friends on the phone two to three weeks before the party.”
In the realm of power, it is important to disdain the things you cannot have, and in this regard you should invite the talented ballerina simply so you can completely ignore her, and quickly change the subject whenever she attempts to bring up her interest in ballet. With her rendered completely powerless to outshine you at your own party, you can go right to work on the twins from across the street, posing as their friend while secretly making them your spies at school. Calling your friends to invite them three weeks in advance is a perfect way to imply that their invitation is not set in stone, and that there is plenty of time for the status of it to change during the time leading up to the party.
“If you’re not having your party at home but at a beach, public pool, skating rink or park, talk to the people at the place you’ve chosen to find out if it’s okay to have your party there. In many instances, you would call the Department of Parks and Recreation. Let them know the day and time as far in advance as possible (some locations get very busy at certain times of the year). Check to see what costs, if any, are involved. Make sure your parents know about these arrangements.”
When dealing with any kind of town or city official, it is important to grease the wheels a bit before asking for a special favor. Remember that it won’t kill your parents to open their wallets and make a sizeable donation to ensure that petty matters, like peak season for instance, will not get in the way of what you ultimately desire as the date for your party. If anyone questions the manner in which you were able to secure such a date, act as if nothing seems out of the ordinary about it to you, and wonder out loud why anyone would consider it a big deal to begin with.
Barbie’s Kitchen Rules:
Before you begin to cook, make sure you can use the kitchen. An adult needs to be present to help you with difficult steps and to answer your questions.
1. Grown-ups are classically bossy, so it’s important to do/prep everything you know will upset them prior to alerting them to your plans to use the kitchen. Remember, although they are bossy, grown-ups DO know a lot, so use their experience to your advantage while taking ALL of the credit in front of your friends.
- If your hair is long, put it in a ponytail. Don’t wear loose baggy clothing. Hair in your eyes and clothing that gets in your way can be unhealthy and dangerous when you cook.
Remember that this is not the time to worry about appearances – dress appropriately and get the majority of the hard work done now – there will be time for seducing your guests with the notion that all of this was effortless once the party starts.
- Wash your hands!
Especially if yours have been the same places mine have.
- Read the entire recipe to make sure you have everything you’ll need. You don’t want to be in the middle of making a dish and find out you’re missing something!
Because you don’t actually know how to cook, and are therefore a slave to the recipe and completely unable to improvise under pressure, this step is particularly important.
- Clear a workspace by putting away anything you’re not going to need. Accidents occur when you don’t have enough room to work.
Feel free to promptly transfer anyone else’s things that are in your way straight to the trash bin.
- Make sure little brothers, sisters, and pets are kept away from knives, the stove and other hot things.
This is, of course, unless you need to employ them as a classic “cat’s paws” to burn themselves so you don’t have to. Charging your little brother with the time-consuming task of making a roux, also known as “Louisiana Napalm,” will free you up for continued menu planning.
- When you use a knife or vegetable parer, be very careful. Always pick up a knife by the handle, never the blade, and with dry hands. The blade should always be pointed away from you. Have a parent demonstrate the correct way to use a knife before you begin.
Be prepared to illicit a look from your parent that implies you have amounted to a complete intellectual failure. You might as well start grabbing the knife by the blade now and get it over with…
- Have an adult turn on the stove and oven for you, as well as light the grill or make a fire. Keep all items away from hot burners. Turn your oven or stove burners off as soon as you finish with them!
Assuming that you DO NOT know how to turn the oven ON but your DO know how to turn it OFF.
- Always use oven mitts when you handle any hot utensil, and use long-handled wooden spoons when stirring
(Refer to #6)
- Remember to clean up after you’ve finished in the kitchen. Then your parents will let you use it again. If you rinse and stack as you go along, you’ll keep the kitchen organized and make the job of clean up much easier.
While cleaning, it is important to continually remind your parents that if they made more money, they could hire a maid to take care of all of this bullshit so you wouldn’t have to.
“On the following pages are my ten best party themes! Choose one that would fit the time of year you’re having your party. the type of food you and your friends like to eat and any other activities that you already have planned for them. For example, if you’re having a summer birthday party I would recommend either the Ice Cream Birthday Party, the Summer Cookout, the Beach Party, or the Southwestern Fiesta.”
#1 The Video Slumber Party
One stormy winter night, Skipper, Christie, Teresa and I made miniature pizzas and popcorn with two different toppings. Then we climbed into our flannel nightgowns, snuggled into sleeping bags and had a ball – watching movies and snacking away! The next morning I made French Toast Raspberry Jelly Sandwiches. Yummy!
By “Flannel” I was obviously referring to “Sateen.” Christie took things a step further and showed up in her wedding gown, which has been mentally noted by me to use against her at a much later date. Skipper had been complaining incessantly about her weight, so we delighted in making her watch hungrily as we devoured her share of the pizza. After starting with Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS I we moved on to Frozen.
#2 Valentine’s Day
“This year I sent out homemade invitations trimmed with lace and my girlfriends all wore shades of pink or red. It was a very romantic evening: We listened to love songs on the stereo. Ken was crazy about my ice cream cookie sandwiches; I loved the heart-shaped locket he gave me.”
The problem with Ken is that, even though his gifts are generally quite thoughtful, he instantly makes you regret receiving them because he simply won’t shut up about it. “Barbie, show your friends the locket again!” and “Girls, don’t you wish you had someone like me to buy you lockets?” are only the beginning of the barrage of asinine shit that came out of his mouth at my party. He then proceeded to eat too many of my fucking ice cream sandwiches and spend the rest of the night complaining about a tummy ache due to his “lactose intolerance.” Once again, Ken had ruined Valentines Day.
#3 Italian Festival
“When you want to treat your friends to a really yummy, filling meal that is a jiff to make, try my dinner from Rome. I actually got the recipe for the tomato sauce from a chef I met while visiting Italy. Bon appetito!”
I spent so much time trying to explain to Ken that dressing “Italian-style” doesn’t mean “Like you’re in the circus with Siegfried and Roy,” I burned my goddamn loaf of garlic bread. I started to cry, but he just stood there, staring at me with those lifeless plastic eyes of his. I feel a.. change.. coming on..
#4 Garden Tea Party
“When the roses are blooming and the afternoon sun is warm, dust off your patio and put some fresh-cut flowers in your vase. Then find a frilly dress in your closet and invite all of your friends over for tea, sandwiches, and girl-talk.”
After preparing the tea sandwiches and awaiting the arrival of my girlfriends, all I had left to do was get dressed. I opened my closet and pulled out my favorite frilly dress, only to recall in horror that the last time I wore it I dropped a lit cigarette into my lap, and had been too lazy to take it straight to the dry cleaner. As I frantically try to call everyone to cancel before it’s too late, Amelia, my least favorite of all, comes putting down the driveway in her shitty little Prius. I take a deep breath, and remind myself that part of being Barbie is keeping my composure in moments of extreme pressure such as this one..
#5 Ice Cream Birthday Party
“Roll up your sleeves and put on your apron – you’re about to make some of the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted. Cookies N’ Cream and Super-Fresh Strawberry – both with my chocolatey hot fudge sauce – is bound to make your birthday fun, fun, fun! You may never buy store-bought ice cream again.”
There is a very fine line between “crimping” your hair and showing up looking like My Little fucking Pony. Amanda has, once again, proved to be an eyesore at my party. Everyone seems focused on their sundaes, trying not to glance over at the 100-pound elephant in the room (literally). I am nearing the end of my rope.
#6 Summer Cookout
“What’s a summer without a cookout? Well, when you taste one of my cheeseburgers you’ll wish you could cook out year-round. I like to finish this meal with a traditional favorite: S’mores! (This party could also be held at a campsite)”
Child services has yet to call me back to help identify whoever the hell this little girl is that has wandered into my yard and crashed my cookout. Luckily, I have purchased several 3-gallon jugs of orange soda, which should keep her occupied for at least another twenty minutes so I can get these burgers flipped and keep Crystal out of the graham crackers for the s’mores.
#7 Beach Party
”This occasion is bound to be a splash – when you taste my Chickabobs and Pacific Salad you’ll feel as if you’re on a South Sea island. They’re the perfect food to enjoy with the surf, sun, and sand!”
My plan to completely emasculate Ken by making him wear that bathing suit, in hopes that he could refrain from hitting on my girlfriends for once, appears to be backfiring horribly. No, neither he NOR Teresa seem to mind, as they are hanging all over each other while I resist the urge to bury the skewers from these Chickabobs firmly into their eye sockets. Christie is clearly uncomfortable as well, but keeps trying to diffuse the situation by offering them both more fruit salad. Barbie, you need to take a long, hard look at this Ken situation.
#8 Southwestern Fiesta
“It was a hot dusty-dry day, and we’d been out horseback riding over hill and dale. We were tired and thirsty, but most of all we wanted a meal that we could really dig into. That’s why I whipped up these mouth-watering tacos and quesadillas. They were gone in no time!”
Ken, sporting about five pleats on his stone-washed jeans and a cowboy motif that would make both Elton John and Liberace blush, has the nerve to complain about my choice of flour tortillas “because of the gluten.” Teresa has followed suit with her choice of outfits, and I can only feel sympathy for the poor horse that is forced to have her bare, hairy legs slapping against it’s sides for hours when we go riding later. Also, it’s important that I remind you, if you are going to attempt this party at home, to NOT OVER-MIX THE FUCKING GUACAMOLE.
#9 Halloween Magic
“For this devilish night I baked my bewitching Pumpkin-Raisin cookies and gave out half to trick-or-treaters. The rest I served at the my party and there wasn’t one left.”
I couldn’t help but notice the look of displeasure on the trick-or-treater’s faces as I shoved pumpkin-raisin cookies, instead of Snickers bars, into their bags. I turned away from the door to find Ken, with his “Fisher Price: My First Bondage Party” mask on, making a face at me that implied “I told you so.” I replied that he looked like an “even-gayer Robin” and stormed away to put the rest of the cookies out for my guests. Later on I snuck into the closet and made out with Aaron, Ken’s football teammate, and it was amazing (because he had dressed as “Magnum P.I. for Halloween, and you know how I feel about the whole moustache thing).
#10 Winter Sparkle
“Brrrr! When we all got back to my place, everyone’s toes and fingers were numb and our stomach’s were empty. After a hearty meal of scrumptious macaroni and cheese, we sipped homemade hot chocolate and nibbled peanut butter cookies. It was the perfect way to end the day.”
I was in a pissy mood because my pink snowmobile shit the bed about 3 miles away, and Ken was too busy playing X-Box and eating goldfish crackers to come pick me up. Now that I’m pretty confident I’m going to lose a toe, I guess I’ll have to cook for these assholes so they’ll stop complaining about being “chilly.” When Ken gets here, I’m going to pour molten hot homemade hot chocolate into his lifeless plastic eyes and force-feed him my “chock-full of lactose” macaroni and cheese.
All pictures and excerpts taken from:
Vinitsky, Wendy (Foreward and Party Intros) and Helene Siegel (Recipes). The Barbie Party Cookbook. Los Angeles: Price Stern Sloan, 1991. Print.