On the quiet afternoon of Sept. 10, Off Square Books hosted a signing of “Classical Shindig,” a book by New Orleans-based hosts and pianists Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper.
The book features an array of ideas for entertaining in one’s home, reflecting Harold and Peeper’s talent for cooking, decorating and music. From photographs of elegant dining table displays to detailed recipes based on aspects of different places, “Classic Shindig” includes it.
Harold shared what sparked the duo’s collaborative impulse.
“Because we like entertaining, and I like to write and eat good food, and Quinn loves the art of a tablespace and the beautiful things that a table can have, we got together and decided let’s just show what he has,” Harold said.
Throughout the book, there are many recipes reflecting where they have lived, like “Lemon Gâteau Soufflé,” “Hush Puppies with Caviar” and “King Cake Tea.”
This book highlights beautiful components of Southern culture. Mississippi and Arkansas play prominently – as does New Orleans.
“New Orleans has a big part of it, because we live in this great old house and it looks like a classic New Orleans house with tall ceilings and pretty crown molding,” Harold said.
Harold has spent his life in New Orleans, while Peeper was born in Osceola, Ark., but also has spent time in Germantown, Tenn., and now New Orleans.
Their backgrounds in these different places influenced not only their book, but their lives and how they embody the “warm Southern host.”
“I feel like having people in your house is one of the greatest things you can give to your friends,” Harold said.
Music is an integral part of Harold and Peeper’s hosting philosophy. Not only does it play a prominent role in “Classical Shindig,” but also in the duo’s lives.
“We both love the art of entertaining,” Harold said. “We both play classical music, and we don’t ever get paid for the music. We like to just play for nonprofits.”
Bookseller Jennifer Mason spoke to the writers’ hospitality.
“(The authors) are just so charming and so warm,” Mason said. “Which is not surprising right? They have a whole book about hosting. They have just been really lovely. Just carefree.”
Harold and Peeper plan to release a followup to “Classical Shindig” focusing on a house in Pass Christian, Miss.