Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meeting Nathalie Dupree

From Chapel Hill and A Southern Season, I headed to Charleston for some Specialty Tea Institute Level Four classes.  While I was in Charleston, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my lifelong mentors-Nathalie Dupree.  I remember watching her on PBS for so many years.  She is just as delightful in person as she is on television. 
Nathalie Dupree in the tea fields near Charleston
She lives just down the street from where my hotel was for the conference in the historic district.  It was a lovely walk to her home with quaint shops and restaurants all along the way.  She was so gracious to meet with me and invite me into her home. 

We chatted about many things and she shared some tidbits of wisdom from her many years of being in the food world.  Her advice is invaluable to me as there are not many that have been in the culinary world and done as much as she has.  She has what she calls the "pork chop theory" about sharing.  I had just heard about her theory from another friend of both of ours ,Virginia Willis on her blog.  Not only do Nathalie and Virginia talk about the theory, they have put it into practice.  Virginia just shared the theory again at the Food Blog Forum I attended this past weekend.  For more on the pork chop theory see Virginia Willis's blog.

Along with sharing career tidbits, we talked about other things as well.  Nathalie Dupree is just about my mom's age. I had my mom on my mind since I had just been to see her in Raleigh earlier in the day.  It is always such a heartbreaking experience to visit her in the nursing home.  For those of you that don't know, my mom got earlier onset Alzheimer's Disease in her early 60's.  She has been struggling with the disease for over nine years now.  I had a long quiet ride by myself from Raleigh to Charleston thinking about her and missing her. Wisdom from people who have gone before me in life is a thing I really value.  I really valued my mom's wisdom and was one of the many reasons I dedicated my first book to her. 

Although I didn't know Nathalie personally at all other than some writing correspondence, we ended up talking about my mom.  We even shared some tears about her as I wondered why life is so different for people.  My mom can no longer speak or say my name.  Ms Dupree on the other hand, who is her age is vibrant, full of ideas, and in the midst of writing cookbooks.

For me, tea is much more than just a beverage.  It is also about taking time to spend with those you love.  I told Nathalie how much I valued the time my mom and I spent having tea and talking about life.  I am so grateful for those times now.  I had no idea that they would be cut short by her awful disease, but I was thankful I took the time when I did before it was too late!  I wrote a short article about our teas together that will be featured in the March/April issue of TeaTime Magazine as my birthday gift to her.  I am blessed to share the same birthday as my mom and really miss our birthday teas!

Before I had to leave, Ms. Dupree showed me her teacup collection which is amazing and had many stories behind them.  We also looked at her garden which was filled with herbs, fruit trees, and even a tea plant! I loved her whimsy of "planting" broken pottery in her garden.   I hated to leave, but it was time to for me to go setup for my conference and for Nathalie to get back to her Sunday!  I felt like I had known her much longer than just the hour and a half I had been there.

Are there those in your life that have practiced the "pork chop theory" and helped you along the way?  Would love to hear about it.  

Thank you Nathalie Dupree for such a lovely visit!

Happy Sipping and Visiting, Lisa


  1. Dearest Lisa,

    As for my experience of the 'pork chop theory'; that must be no other than my teacher and mentor who became my beloved husband. He has coached me when I wrote my first publications and little book and he loves my blog as well.
    Too bad that he had to have his open heart surgery suddenly at a time when our Dutch friends were in the air, on their way to Atlanta... But he's a true fighter and got discharged from the Macon Heart Institute only 4 days after his surgery. Still has to go a long way but he's rather active in his daily routine with naps in-between.
    We savor again our tea together (even though he cannot have the real thing for now) with our friends. That is the most soothing time of the day. Stories are told and remembered!

    Sunny greetings from Georgia next door...


  2. I have to follow the link to read about the pork chop theory. :)

    I loved Nathalie on the PBS shows. She was such a Southern Lady and had (has) the best recipes.

    Although I grew up and live in the Midwest, my own mother was Southern. She passed away at the good, old age of 85 but she had also been bedridden for years and became confused.

    My sisters and I all agreed it was like losing our mother years before her actual passing. Even after all of these years, I miss her and wish she was here to see my daughter's daughters. :-)