This is a delightful book about growing up and being a younger adult in the southern United States. It leans a little bit towards the silver-spoon side (for instance, my family’s road trips were in a square-back Volkswagen and later a Chevrolet, never a Cadillac!), but most southerners can relate to the sweet tea for all occasions, respect for others, fun with children and grandparents, gardening, dinner parties and family table times, doing good and being neighborly, friendships, and the southern woman’s tendency to over-do all holidays and special occasions.
My family never had a Cadillac, although my sister did as an adult, and we never added sugar to our tea because my dad was diabetic. I never had anything monogrammed until my college-age daughters started gifting me with shirts and coffee cups, but, in spite of these differences from Reese’s experience, we were very southern. Mama never left the house without lipstick, girls wore dresses for any social occasion, and my brothers were expected to be neat and clean, although opinions about haircuts caused some clashes. We went to church and most of us loved to sing. My sister and I took piano lessons and we all collected music. Dinner was a colorful array of vegetables from our backyard garden, with sliced tomatoes on a plate all summer long. Every autumn, there would be a pot of greens, either simmering on the stove with onions or as a bag of leftover veggies pulled from the freezer. Collards, turnip and mustard greens-we loved them all, but I had no experience with kale until I sampled it in a restaurant in college. Someone told me it was an accent and it wasn’t supposed to be eaten. My, how the popularity of kale has changed, although I don’t know of anyone who tries to grow it in this area.
This would be a great book for southerners of all ages, young women just starting to cook and entertain, and anyone wanting to get a clue to southern culture. The recipes are great, although most are a bit more decadent than I would make them, although the corn salad, hoecakes and okra are spot-on. I was surprised by the sugar in her greens recipe-I thought that southerners never added sugar to vegetables. (Mama always said that some people added sugar to tomatoes, but not if they’re from here.) I’d heard of Derby pie, but never experienced it, kind of chocolate chip cookie dough in a pie, so I may not try that one. I can’t wait to try the frozen fruit salad (looks like Swan House and the one I remember at the former Rich’s Magnolia tea room, a special treat). Reese’s book is like a breath of spring air, reminding me that there will be get-togethers on the back porch soon!