Southern humorist Julia Reed celebrates Southern food, Southern women, and the Southern penchant for enjoying good times in this collection of her food writing.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 ather, 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 gelatinwhy most things taste better with homemade mayonnaisethe 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 canape, 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 hor of someone you love. Grace and hilarity under gastromic pressure suffuse these essays, along with remembrances of her gastromic heroes including Richard Olney, Mary Cantwell, and M.F.K. Fisher. Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties is ather great book about the South from Julia Reed, a writer who makes her experiences in and out of the kitchen a joy to read.
JULIA REED is a contributing editor at 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 lives in New Orleans.