Nathalie Dupree's Comfortable Entertaining Analysis

Nathalie Dupree Cooks Everyday Meals from a Well-stocked Pantry (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Faithful to it’s title, NATHALIE DUPREE COOKS EVERYDAY MEALS FROM A WELL-STOCKED PANTRY, is a gathering of recipes that make the cooking process for the average cook easier. It’s true, as Dupree points out in her introduction, that one of the most tedious parts of cooking interesting recipes can be the extra shopping involved. Typical cookbook recipes require many fresh items or dry goods that the average cook does not normally have on hand. This means having to make a shopping trip for just that one meal and not knowing what to do with the unusual left-over ingredients. In this volume, Dupree makes a conscious effort to give recipes that include more of the average pantry’s stock, rather than the professional cook’s. For the most part, Dupree’s efforts are successful, but her ideas of a “well-stocked” pantry still means serious shopping, at least for the initial set-up. Dupree provides a detailed description of the must-haves, and the less important but necessary items to keep in the kitchen.

Dupree is known for her Southern style cooking, and the recipes in this collection, to a certain degree, reflect this specialty. Many dishes include curries, chilis and many are Caribbean based. But most recipes in this book are, as the title says, “everyday” meals so if the reader expects only Dupree’s flavorful, exciting Southern dishes, they may be disappointed. Most recipes are the regular basics: vegetable soups, grilled meats, cheesy appetizers and desserts. Some choice exceptions include Curried Cream and Tomato Soup, Tangy Chicken Breasts Baked with Black Bean Salsa, and Hot Carrots with Pine Nuts.

With easy to follow directions, plenty of tips and clear organization, this cookbook makes a useful addition to any kitchen. Dupree deserves applause for her attempt at this long-needed kind of cookbook that lets the average cook experiment with recipes but keep the grocery shopping less expensive and less frequent.

Nathalie Dupree's Comfortable Entertaining Nathalie Dupree’s Comfortable Entertaining (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

With Nathalie Dupree’s Comfortable Entertaining: At Home with Ease and Grace, Nathalie Dupree has written more than a cook book; she has created an entertaining reference tool consisting of complete and unique menus and entertaining tips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The book is well organized and includes numerous inspiring color photographs and humorous anecdotes. However, many of the menus include ingredients that are not commonly stocked in most kitchens or require special preparation, such as overnight chilling. Party planners would therefore be well advised to heed Dupree’s advice to plan ahead.

Dupree’s guide is organized around her four P’s: planning, preparation, presentation, and participation. She stresses the importance of planning such items as the guest list; place, date, and time of the meal; how much time and money one can afford to spend; and what to serve. Doing so saves much time and frustration. Preparation includes deciding upon, shopping for, preparing, and storing the menu; cleaning before and after (including the medicine cabinet for those nosy guests); and deciding how to serve and clean up after each course.

The book also provides a list of ways to present the food that considers such questions as which seating arrangement will optimize conversation and serving ease, what type of centerpieces will add to the table without intruding, and what type of music and lighting will complement the menu and the atmosphere. The final P, participation, addresses the following question: If no one participates in the dinner, what is the point of having one? To ensure participation from all, Dupree suggests making sure that the guests feel welcome, and, keeping things moving. Above all, she suggests, “be there for your guests and be who you are. And enjoy yourself: It’s your party too!”