Has there ever, in the history of food and entertainment writing, been a woman as charming as Julia Reed?
A few weeks ago, for my birthday, Manny’s mom sent me a copy of the recently released Julia Reed’s South. I’m telling you, if you’re not familiar with JR, do yourself a favor and look her up.
I love the balance she strikes between finery and no-fuss. She pairs ham biscuits with brut champagne (a drink she elsewhere touts as “fried chicken juice”), setting the scene with gilded French porcelain and blues music.
Her approach to food and entertaining gives vast credit to the variety of ways we think about the South and Southern cuisine. And, like all of my favorite cookbooks (I’m looking at you Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year), it tells stories around recipes, so you can read it front to back like a novel of sorts. And don’t get me started on the place settings. TDF.
This being said, JR is #fancy, and so is much of her food (regardless of her penchant for ham biscuits and fried chicken). Her high/low mentality is ultimately a testament to her good taste. But she’s somehow still down to earth and this book conveys a broader understanding of the great art of Southern Dinner Parties. Her point is that you don’t need to be Southern, or even in the South, to enjoy the charms of good Southern dining.
I should further note that this book may appeal most to people not originally from the South. I was gushing about it to a friend who grew up in Georgia and she declared that any true Southern lady already knows these recipes. But I’ll say this, Pittsburgher that I am: Julia Reed charmed the heck out of me. This Christmas, we’re eating bourbon balls until we burst.
What about you? Have you read any of Julia Reed’s books?
(This post is not an official endorsement.)