Vignettes and victuals from the Victorian South; yards full of magnolia, mimosa, and fruit trees; gardens blooming with lilies, gardenias, and camellias; shaded porches; the aroma of wonderful food cooking in the kitchen all precious memories of life as it was lived in the old South.
Luann Landon preserves these and so much more in Dinner at Miss Lady's: Memories and Recipes from a Southern Childhood, a charming evocation of her summers in Greensboro, Georgia, living in a large Victorian house presided over by her petite fraternal grandmother, Miss Lady, the essence of Southern gentility and fragility, and Murlo, her supremely competent maternal grandmother. Miss Lady couldn't make a cup of tea; Henretta, her devoted cook, carried the culinary burdens as well as many others. Murlo insisted on fresh ingredients and made everything herself from scratch. Food was very important in this world, and life centered around meals that took place at the long mahogany table in the family dining room the heart of every old Southern home. Ms. Landon has punctuated her reminiscences with menus and recipes that were served on particular occasions, or, using her informed imagination, could have been served. These rich, luscious dishes are not what we're accustomed to in our fat-cholesterol-calorie-conscious world; this sensuous epicurean approach to dining has all but disappeared. We don't, and probably shouldn't, eat like this all the time, but why not venture into that slower-paced, grander Victorian era and savor some, or many, of these elegant creations? There are Southern classics such as Beaten Biscuits, Georgia Creamed Chicken, Henretta's Peach Ice Cream, and Green Tomato Chutney; and there are recipes that could easily grace a table in Paris: Stuffed Veal Roast with Pear Sauce, Galantine of Turkey with Chaudfroid Sauce, or Chilled Sweetbreads Salad. Both of Ms. Landon's grandmothers taught her the things they had been taught and thought important to pass on; the most important was good taste in all its forms. And both grandmothers, I'm sure, would be proud that their granddaughter had evidenced that sense of style and taste in this memoir.