When you write a book about the lives and loves of sensational plus-size women, it's bound to focus on food. And that's exactly what happened when I penned my most recent novel, "The Way It Is" (Kensington, $13), about three fabulous femmes who, through a series of misadventures, learn to accept themselves for who they are. Food and all the obsessive-compulsive behaviors that go with it ("Ugh, my thighs!" "Please, pass the Krispy Kremes!") played such an important role in the book that when I decided to celebrate its publication, I figured what better way than with a "To hell with the diet" party? On the menu: down-home fare to be eaten, if only for one evening, with no remorse.

At the center of my comfort-food buffet was "Ruby's Extreme Corn Bread" -- named in honor of my full-figured main character, a sex-starved woman who makes a habit of drowning her sorrows with doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and other sinful snacks. Over the years I've made gourmet entrees -- lobster in puff pastry, roast rack of lamb -- but nothing has received as many raves as this simple side dish, which uses beaucoup butter and sour cream to give it a moister texture than your standard recipe.

Other menu items also paid homage to the book. Corn salsa -- a nod to the Latin heritage of Simone, the novel's svelte anchorwoman -- complemented the corn bread beautifully. And to embody the weakness that Wanda, a plus-size model and Ruby's sidekick, feels for anything fried, I made crab fritters.

My guests (some of whom inspired the novel) barely exchanged greetings before grabbing plates. I warned people to come hungry, and it appeared that they'd listened. The food ended up taking center stage, inspiring fond reminiscences of chicken potpie, pot roast, and fried catfish. But the most talked-about indulgence was my simple corn bread, which always makes people feel exactly the way comfort food should: happy and full.

Patrick Sanchez

Additional recipes inspired by "The Way It Is" can be found on Sanchez's Web site, www.patrick-sanchez.com.

The group pauses to chat before going for seconds. After chowing down on corn bread and crab fritters, they are ready for more. Patrick Sanchez, wearing black, enjoys feeding his friends.