Julia Reed spends a lot of time thinking about ham biscuits. And cornbread and casseroles and the surprisingly modern ease of donning a hostess gown for one’s own party. In Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties Julia Reed collects her thoughts on good cooking and the lessons of gracious entertaining that pass from one woman to another, and takes the reader on a lively and very personal tour of the culinary—and social—South. In essays on everything from pork chops to the perfect picnic Julia Reed revels in the simple good qualities that make the Southern table the best possible place to pull up a chair. She expounds on: the Southerner’s relentless penchant for using gelatin; why most things taste better with homemade mayonnaise; the necessity of a holiday milk punch (and, possibly, a Santa hat); how best to “cook for compliments” (at least one squash casserole and Lee Bailey’s barbequed veal are key). She provides recipes for some of the region’s best-loved dishes (cheese straws, red velvet cake, breakfast shrimp), along with her own variations on the classics, including Fried Oysters Rockefeller Salad and Creole Crab Soup. She also elaborates on worthwhile information every hostess would do well to learn: the icebreaking qualities of a Ramos gin fizz and a hot crabmeat canapé, for example; the “wow factor” intrinsic in a platter of devilled eggs or a giant silver punchbowl filled with scoops of homemade ice cream. There is guidance on everything from the best possible way to “eat” your luck on New Year’s Day to composing a menu in honor of someone you love. Grace and hilarity under gastronomic pressure suffuse these essays, along with remembrances of her gastronomic heroes including Richard Olney, Mary Cantwell, and M.F.K. Fisher. Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties is another great book about the South from Julia Reed, a writer who makes her experiences in—and out of—the kitchen a joy to read.
About the Author
JULIA REED is a contributing editor at "Vogue" and "Newsweek," where she writes the magazine's Food and Drink column. She is author of "Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena" and "The House on ""First Street"," My ""New Orleans"" Story." Reed divides her time between New Orleans and New York City.
Praise for "Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena":
“[A] rambunctiously charming essay collection...as refreshing and bracing as a mint julep... Even the most hopeless Yankee will have no trouble getting in touch with her inner Poultry Princess.”–Vogue
“[An] effervescent collection of essays...charming...amusing.”–The New York Times Book Review
“Not since Eudora Welty has anybody captured in such sophisticated, often mordant prose the brave, gracious, perverse, reckless, God-fearing Southern soul like Julia reed. Whether she’s holding forth on fried chicken and catfish, guns, booze, cockfights, pestilence, or Southern womanhood, Reed loads both barrels and never misses the target. As a Carolina Tarheel, I rejoiced, cringed, marveled, and laughed myself sick at Reed’s outrageous tales and savvy insights, and I defy anybody–Southerner and Yankee alike–to come up for are after reading the first chapter.”--James Villas, author of Between Bites and My Mother's Southern Kitchen
"In this engaging collection of essays, Mississippi native Reed presents a fresh and eclectic portrait of the South...she renders an honest portrayal of the quirks, foibles and wonders of the region."--Publishers Weekly
"She's clear-eyed, raucously funny, and a natural story teller, which makes her something of a southern phenomenon herself."-John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
"a playful collection of essays that humorously and humbly celebrates the quirkiness that lies deep in the heart of Dixie."—Booklist