World Chefs-For Southerner James Villas, fried is where the heart is

Tue Dec 3, 2013 1:21pm EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Veteran food writer James Villas likes to say he was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a cast-iron skillet in his hand.

In "Southern Fried: More than 150 recipes for crab cakes, fried chicken, hush puppies and more," Villas, who was food and wine editor of Town & Country magazine for 27 years, pays homage to the cuisine he learned at his mother's knee.

"There's no food that people love more than fried food," said Villas, "and we Southerners do it right: beautiful and dry and crispy and wonderful."

Villas is the author of some 17 cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning "Pig: King of the Southern Table."

The 75-year-old spoke from his home in East Hampton, Long Island, about the do's and don'ts of frying, why it is close to a religion in the South, and how Southern comfort foods are turning up in the swankiest New York restaurants.

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: The style of cooking that typifies Southern cuisine like nothing else is fried food ... The type of food that we're condemned for, the type of food that people say is going to cause the end of the earth, but the type of food that we love the most and that we were all raised on.

Q: Why is Southern fried food vilified?   Continued...