Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Lee Bros. at BookPeople

I stopped by BookPeople last week to hear what Matt and Ted Lee had to say about their new cookbook, "Simple Fresh Southern," then went right home and roasted a sweet potato. It was the least I could do after hearing their elaborate descriptions of grated sweet potato and okra fritters dipped in garlic and buttermilk sauce and a dessert of mint julep panna cotta.

Decorously known as the Lee Bros., these guys take buttermilk and cheese and biscuits very seriously, with heavy emphasis on the buttermilk. But they're out to promote the idea that fresh peas and greens and fruits and seafood can be just as tasty — and just as traditionally Southern — unadorned by extra fat and out of the midcentury mold of a casserole dish.

Thoughtful about what matters to them and full of brotherly banter, the pair seem much more hip than they appear on the khakis-on-the-front-porch cover of "The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook" and — best of all — they're utterly quotable...

On following instructions: "Recipes are just a starting point. We call them suggestive architecture."

On conceiving the idea to make a pimento cheese potato gratin: "Now that's the kind of fun I like."

On support for "Simple Fresh Southern": "It's the first book ever to have an endorsement from Alice Waters and Paula Deen and Amy Sedaris. If you think about it too much, you might self-immolate."

Audience Q: "Why is all the buttermilk you see in the grocery store low-fat?"
A: "Yeah, that kind of sticks in our craw, too."

On handy packaging: "The coolest buttermilk innovation I've seen is a half-pint carton. I mean, eureka. That was Twitterable."

On lard: "It's no worse for you than butter, and it might be better. You want the fresh product. If you touch it, it's like Nivea. Or something very luxurious. We're very lard-positive."

On sharing author duties: "Whoever's the least depressed starts off the writing."

On Thanksgiving: "I cooked my turkey in the toaster oven."


  1. Suggestive architechure! I love that. Probably because I hate following recipes :)

  2. "Whoever's the least depressed. . . ." I love it!