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If you are someone who prepares for guests by sweeping bills, laundry and newspapers behind sofa cushions, take heart! It's possible to be an imperfect host, but happily so. The essential ingredient is not, paradoxically, the food, nor the perfect house to host in, but the sentiment you convey when you open the door. Do your eyes say: 'I like you and I enjoy your company,' or does a weepy cloud of visceral horror descend as pine nuts burn quietly in the kitchen?
Special Guest is a gentle guide to turning easy basic fare into something of a celebration. For when you want to say to your friends with their spouses and ten small children, 'Why don't you stay for lunch?' without hating yourself afterwards. Learn the lesson of 'one splendid thing done well' without regard to the hundred other things, and call the day a success. Pick up some pointers for the modern conundrum that is cooking for people with seemingly incompatible dietary requirements.
Hosting your friends is not about showing off; it is about delighting others. Your dining table might be decorated with a pile of unmatched socks and kids' homework, but that's no reason not to invite friends in for a chat, a sit-down and something delicious to eat.
Annabel Crabb is one of Australia's best-loved TV and media personalities and a joyfully imperfect host. Wendy Sharpe is Annabel's oldest friend, a recipe consultant on Kitchen Cabinet and co-conspirator in mad-capped cookery projects.
Annabel Crabb & Wendy Sharpe
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