Julia Reed

Stories by Julia Reed

  • hotdogs-cu02-tease

    Hot Dog! Chicago Gets Its Michelin Guide

    Chicago has the distinction of being one of the handful of American destinations (including New York, L.A., Las Vegas, and California’s Bay Area) to warrant its own Michelin guide.
  • GulfSeafood-teaser

    Chefs Digging In to Gulf Seafood

    The thought of 200 million gallons of oil spewing into the gulf is enough to give anyone pause when it comes to eating the living things in that sea. But restaurateurs are optimistic about the safety of the fish in the gulf.
  • cu05-rum-wide

    Rum Punch, Straight Up

    Several years ago, when Quentin Tarantino made Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch into a film called Jackie Brown, it captured almost none of the book’s genius. Leonard’s work is deceptively multilayered, full of mood and pitch-perfect rhythm and action that seems entirely unforced. Most important, there’s never been an Elmore Leonard novel that contains a single thing it shouldn’t.
  • pig-food-reed

    Food: Pigs Go Upscale

    In his new Pig: King of The Southern Table, James Villas writes that he has “yet to meet a fellow Southerner who didn’t love, respect, and, indeed, understand pig like no other Americans.” The book’s exhaustive collection of recipes from across the region proves Villas’s case—and reminds me that not only do we utilize pretty much every pig part, but we save the leftovers to embellish almost everything else.
  • The Return of Legal Absinthe

    For the past three years it has been legal, once again, to sell absinthe in America. So far I have seen no noteworthy spike in violent crime, creativity, or especially wanton debauchery, all of which were purported results of regular absinthe drinking in its heyday, starting in the 1860s. On Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where absinthe consumption rivaled that of France, an early-20th-century visitor reported seeing the bodies of absinthe-crazed young men rolling off the tin roofs near the Old Absinthe House. In France an absinthe drinker named Jean Lanfray killed his entire family, a highly publicized incident known as the "absinthe murders" and said to have been the chief reason France banned the spirit in 1915, three years after the Americans did.As it happened, Lanfray was also a wine-swilling drunk, and the ban can be more accurately attributed to pressure from vintners concerned about the effect of absinthe's burgeoning popularity on their business (36 million liters of the...
  • The $50 a Week Gourmet

    Just after new year's, I was having a festive drink with my friends Rod and Joyce when the talk turned—as the talk so often does these days—to budgets. I mentioned that I had never in my life made one until now, a fact that has driven my father, who considers me the soul of extravagance, crazy for at least 30 years, and might also have contributed, now that I think of it, to the current less-than-lavish state of my pocketbook. Anyway, as part of my new, more prudent approach to things, I thought it might be interesting to see if my husband and I could dine—pretty well—on $50 worth of groceries per week. If I were the irritating Julie Powell, I might blog about it; instead, I made a bet.Rod wagered it would be impossible—for me—and we agreed that whoever lost would buy a fittingly extravagant dinner. What Rod didn't know is that I've long lived like an accidental survivalist. All I needed to win was to shop my own pantry.The good news about being formerly extravagant is that you have...
  • Peppermint Everything--Yuck!

    I have a friend whose most vivid Christmas memory centers on a bowl of peppermint ice cream. It was nothing fancy—unlike say, the white-chocolate-and-peppermint-bark version Häagen-Dazs brings out this time of year. Just the plain old Kroger grocery-store brand, the stuff available only during the holidays and billed rather grandly as a "limited edition." Clearly, his may not have been the happiest of childhoods (into his adolescence, the bowl was accompanied by a shot of Wild Turkey poured by his grandfather), but I get it. It's all about the anticipation and the symbolism. When the ice cream hits the dairy case, good times are ahead; when it departs, they're over. "Peppermint and the holidays is this almost sacred combo," says Joel Dondis, owner of Sucré, a sweets emporium in New Orleans that sells peppermint drinking chocolate and marshmallows, candy-cane macaroons, and peppermint white-chocolate truffles. "Every year we sell out."Dairies across the country (Dreyer's/Edy's,...
  • The Short Life of Summer Produce

    A few weeks ago, I was leaving my parents' house in Mississippi when I saw my normally fairly composed mother in the rearview mirror, running down the driveway wild-eyed, carrying an armload of corn. "Wait, wait, you have to take these. Please take them with you, please."Now, I am crazy about corn, but during my four-day visit I had already consumed corn pudding, succotash (twice: once with corn and tomatoes and okra, and again with corn and baby limas), corn "fried" in bacon grease in an iron skillet, and, of course, corn on the cob (boiled and grilled, but also zapped in its husks in a microwave for a minute or so, a procedure that not only instantly steams the corn but makes it easier to remove the silks).Still, the second refrigerator reserved for farm-stand binges and the generosity of our neighbors remained full of the stuff. I let her throw the ears in the back seat and when I got home five hours later I went to work immediately, scraping the kernels off the cob and sautéeing...
  • Julia Reed on Summer Cocktails

    The summers of my youth were spent largely at the house of our neighbors, who had six children (including three good-looking, much older and very funny boys) and a playroom with a pool table, card table, stereo and ancient refrigerator. Depending on the summer, I was invariably in love with one of the brothers or their friends, and it was in their company that I picked up the skills that have contributed to my good health and happiness ever since: how to kiss, play poker, hold my beer—and hum along to pretty much every song on a nonstop vinyl soundtrack that included, but was not limited to, the Allman Brothers, the Rolling Stones and the Sir Douglas Quintet.The most memorable summer was marked by the introduction of the Yucca Flats—not the nuke site, but a passion-inducing concoction mixed in metal trash cans with floating handfuls of squeezed citrus, and I've always wondered what else, exactly, was in there.The good (and scary) thing about the Internet is that you can locate not...
  • Eggs Aren't Just for Breakfast Anymore

    When I was in my early 20s, my good buddy McGee generously moved to a penthouse apartment in Paris for three years. On the first of my (numerous) visits, we went out for "French" pizza, and when it arrived, I was a tad unnerved to find that it was crowned with a fried egg. Now, the two of us had eaten plenty of eggs together—but we usually did so at, say, 3 in the morning, at the Waffle House, and I was unaccustomed to seeing them on a plate with anything other than bacon and toast.All that changed in France, where eggs are lavished on everything. With the addition of a fried egg and a bit of béchamel, a croque monsieur becomes a croque madame. Eggs top steaks, float in soups and nestle in frisée salads tossed with lardons. They come poached with red wine or bone-marrow sauces. They appear as omelets with fines herbes or ratatouille.Twenty-five years later, Americans are finally catching on to the fact that eggs are not just for breakfast. The egg-and-frisée craze was the first to...
  • Pass the Mint Jelly All Year

    Everybody eats more lamb than we do. In Australia and New Zealand, they consume 40 times as much.
  • A Chicken-Fried Gourmet

    Granny Fearing's 'Paper Bag Shook' chicken with whipped potatoes appears on the same menu as a nice foie gras duo.
  • An Ode to Winter Greens

    It is no longer enough for produce to be 'fresh.' Chefs and diners demand that the offerings on the plate be seasonal.
  • Shaken Well, with a Twist

    Try one of the world's great drinks, the sidecar, which features the warming combination of brandy and Cointreau.
  • New Orleans Finds Its Civic Pride

    The ravages of Katrina are still evident everywhere you turn. But there is reason for optimism in New Orleans. A city that once laughed at its colorful and inept political culture has found its civic pride.
  • Goodbye and Good Riddance, Gov. Blanco

    New Orleans, 18 months after Katrina, is still a city of considerable ups and downs. Tuesday was no different; as usual, the bad news came first. The first e-mail I received informed me that a block and a half from our new house, at 1:30 in the afternoon, two hold-ups occurred in less than 10 minutes—and I live in the Garden District, still perceived as a “nice” neighborhood, despite the alarming frequency of similar attacks, along with a recent rash of break-ins of both cars and houses (one of them was mine). First, a gunman wielding a “chrome short nose revolver” relieved a sod delivery man of the $30 in his pockets. Next, he snatched a woman’s purse, jumped into an “unknown black vehicle,” and roared away.As crimes go in the city with by far the highest murder rate in the nation (96 per every 100,000 people in 2006; more than 40 people overall have been killed so far in 2007), these could actually be viewed as good news—nobody was killed or even shot, after all. But the real good...
  • Renaissance Man

    The first time I dined with the legendary R. W. Apple, Jr., it was in St. Petersburg in 1997 at the newly opened Grand Hotel Europe. We’d been traveling with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her press spokesman, Jamie Rubin, who was familiar with Apple’s gargantuan appetite and gourmet tastes and who had arranged a small dinner with courses that were to be worked out between the chef and Apple himself. Things were off to a good start with vast amounts of caviar and a tasting of the local vodkas when one of Rubin’s aides interrupted. Madame Secretary was about to be given a private tour of the Hermitage Museum—would we like to tag along? I was halfway out of my seat when Johnny bellowed, “Hang on!” There was still caviar on the table, he reminded me indignantly, and several more courses to follow. He was genuinely torn between the opportunity to see, up close and without crowds, two of the handful of Da Vincis in the entire world, not to mention the Rembrandts and Rodins,...
  • Isle of Denial

    Moments after New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin won reelection with the smallest margin in modern mayoral history, he took the podium at the Marriott ballroom and proclaimed: “This is a great day for the city of New Orleans.” We are, he said, “ready to take off.”Well, nine months after Katrina and only days before the next hurricane season begins, one would hope. But the truth is that much of New Orleans looks the same as it did a week after the storm.  “FEMA got the streets cleared,” says Jimmy Reiss, a local entrepreneur who served on Nagin’s Bring Back New Orleans commission, “But other than that, not a whole lot has happened in the city.”Indeed, more than 100,000 damaged and abandoned cars and 20,000 boats serve as grim and often surreal reminders of Katrina’s havoc-a pale blue speedboat is a by now familiar sight on Earhardt Expressway, one of the city’s major thoroughfares, and a huge barge still sits on the land side of the Industrial Canal floodwall where one of the catastrophic...
  • Hope In The Ruins

    In 1719, a year after Jean-Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, established New Orleans as the capital of the fledgling French colony of Louisiana, a hurricane wiped out the handful of palmetto huts that comprised the city. An engineer named Le Blond de la Tour begged Bienville to move New Orleans to another spot--one that was not, say, five inches below sea level between a powerful and unruly river and a 40-mile-wide lake, but Bienville refused. Two years later, after they'd managed to build four whole blocks, another hurricane came and wiped them out. No wonder the city's first commercial establishment was a wine shop.During the almost three centuries since, New Orleans has remained on the brink of disaster, from continual outbreaks of deadly yellow fever in the 19th century to Hurricane Betsy, which killed 75 people in 1965. Since I first came to New Orleans 14 years ago to cover an election, the nightmare scenario currently being played out with Katrina has been predicted and...
  • A Reckoning In The Bayou

    His luck finally ran out last week. Seventy-two-year-old former governor Edwin W. Edwards was convicted of extorting almost $3 million from companies that applied for riverboat-casino licenses. A craps player noted for his love of beautiful women and his use of gambling aliases such as "T. Wong," Edwards once declared that to get in trouble with Louisiana voters he would have to be found "in bed with a dead girl or a live boy."In the end, it wasn't the voters he had to worry about. Edwards, who won a fourth term as governor after being cleared in the second of two federal trials (the first ended in a hung jury), has also been the target of 22 grand-jury investigations. Last week, after the jury found him guilty of 17 counts, Edwards said, "The Chinese have a saying: if you sit by the river long enough, the dead body of your enemy will come floating down the river. I suppose the Feds sat by the river long enough, so here comes my body." Then he joined his family at home for crawfish...