Every so often we come across a book that is total escapism. When I read Hollywood actor Reese Witherspoon’s Whiskey in a Tea Cup I was released into a world of southern ladies preparing high-calorie comfort foods and relaxing on wide, breezy porches sipping mint juleps. The title is a metaphor for strong southern ladies in delicate, feminine packaging. Same idea as steel magnolias. This is one of those books that embraces you right from the get-go. It’s a combination of lifestyle, memoir, decorating, fashion, culture and down-home cooking in perfect harmony. And the photography is a visual feast.
Strong southern women, in fact strong women in general, are often the daughters and granddaughters of strong women. Following in the footsteps of their mothers and grandmothers, today’s women embrace and respect the traditions of earlier generations while painting their own lives with modern and progressive brush strokes. Witherspoon shares the history of her southern roots to create a beautiful and evocative mural of genteel living.
This book is not a Hollywood memoir with a chronology of lovers, movies and name-dropping. It’s a sharing of lifestyle and personal experiences in the company of family and friends. We’re given a brief family history which builds to sharing of family recipes and traditions. Witherspoon appreciates and values her relationships with long-time girlfriends and they are part of the thread of her everyday life. Entertaining is the essence of southern hospitality and she shares menus, recipes, decorating and even suggests music playlists she’s created to enhance the southern experience.
Witherspoon has a busy life outside of her acting career. The mother of three has her own retail line, “Draper James”; she hosts a popular on-line book club and in 2016 established Hello Sunshine, a female-oriented media brand and content company dedicated to female authorship and storytelling across all platforms.
The book is “Martha-esque” in format but much more welcoming and casual. Many of the wonderful recipes include such low-tech ingredients as Cool Whip. I’ve tried a couple already and next on my list is her Summer Squash Casserole. All are exquisitely photographed.
I originally downloaded Whiskey in a Tea Cup from the library and loved the book so much I decided I should have my own copy for future reference so I purchased it from Amazon (where it was cheaper than the big box store). In fact, I also bought it for a couple of friends I knew would love it as much as I do. It’s a 9 out of 10 and would make a wonderful gift, not only for yourself, but as a Christmas, hostess or birthday gift. Enjoy, y’all.