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Talk is the main dish

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Special to The Times

It’s all about the dish at a themed party dubbed Sex and the Kitchen, which revolves around preparing and eating a lot of exotic food before, during and after the latest episode of HBO’s “Sex and the City.” But make no mistake, the conversation that flows throughout is as much an attraction as the meal.

Katie Chin, a former Hollywood studio marketing executive turned caterer, started throwing the parties on Sunday nights several years ago when “Sex and the City” was in its early seasons. She was testing new recipes for her budding business and for a cookbook she was co-writing with her mother. She’d invite some of her single friends, mostly women, to her apartment for a food, gab and TV fest. I’m getting to be a regular at Katie’s, but with the final season of the show now airing, consider throwing your own Sex and the Kitchen party.

As Carrie Bradshaw said in an episode that took her to a married friend’s weekend house in the Hamptons, singles are expected to sing for their supper in front of their now-settled friends. She proceeded, over dinner, to regale her buddies with tales of her latest sexual exploits.

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Much the same way (minus the marrieds), those who attend the Sex and the Kitchen parties show up with a selection of stories on dating disasters and hellish hookups or, at the other end of the spectrum, on blissful couplings with the opposite sex. It’s all in the spirit of spilling one’s guts while sipping a cosmopolitan. Here’s how Chin’s parties unfold:

“It’s like everyone there is a comrade-in-arms,” said Jean Oh, one of Chin’s close friends and an aspiring novelist. “There’s a common bond of things that happen in women’s lives, and you just want a place where you can share those experiences. It’s the ultimate in girl talk.” Like any party worth its salt, the kitchen is the focal point. It’s an unstructured, casual atmosphere, but everyone has to help in some way.

Rita Prosyak, a longtime friend of Chin’s and a film promotion executive at Fox, admits she’s no cook, but she regularly dices and chops while others take on more involved duties. She’s progressed, though, over time.

“I’ve learned how to make firecracker shrimp,” Prosyak said. (The appetizer is one of Chin’s specialties.) “That’s pretty much a miracle.” The food is the glue that holds the night together, say Sex and the Kitchen regulars.

“It’s something you do as a group that enhances the bonding,” Oh said. “It’s a teamwork thing like those corporate retreats. But with a lot of graphic conversation.”

Not everyone can cook like a caterer or create a Pan-Asian spread like Chin and her pals, but that’s not necessary. People can create their own version of Chin’s gathering, with any number of personal touches. A Sex and the Kitchen party could revolve around any kind of food -- homemade pizza, burgers on the grill, decadent desserts. The point is to gather empathetic friends and cook up a storm.

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And dish.

“Anytime you get a bunch of women in their prime in one room, the talk will inevitably turn to sex,” Prosyak said. Notes are compared, dates are eviscerated, situations laid bare, much the way the interaction happens between characters on the show. (Of course, Carrie and her friends don’t cook -- too fabulous, or too busy -- but they do a lot of kvetching over lunch.) There just might be something about food that brings out candor.

“People get busy with cooking and helping, the champagne starts flowing,” Chin said, “and, before you know it, there are no holds barred.”

Everyone, it seems, has a little Samantha in them sometimes.

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Take a bite

Food and passion are forever intertwined -- at least in the movies. Modern classics such as “Eat Drink Man Woman” and “Like Water for Chocolate” use food as everything from metaphor to mood setter. (Cynics out there might prefer the grapefruit-in-the-face of “Public Enemy,” but it’s all about food as an ignition point.) What better avenue than a Sex and the Kitchen party to put some age-old theories about food’s sensual properties to the test? Some menu suggestions, if you dare ....

Oysters on the half shell

Caviar

Steamed asparagus

Truffles

Figs drizzled with honey

Anything with ginger or garlic

Strawberries with whipped cream (or Samantha’s favorite, non-fat Cool Whip)

Anything chocolate

Champagne

What: “Sex and the City”

When: Sundays, 9 p.m., on HBO

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