Dishing with Katie Couric

Photo: Melanie Dunea
Hometown: Arlington, Virginia | Occupation: Journalist/Talk show host | What's on her plate: The September 10 premiere of her new daytime talk show, Katie. Also, red velvet cake from Sylvia's, Katie's favorite spot for a Southern food fix in New York City

If I could interview any Southerner, it would be Harper Lee, who hasn't granted an interview in decades. I would love to talk to her about writing To Kill a Mockingbird and also what her childhood in Monroeville, Alabama, was like. I imagine it wasn't too dissimilar from my father's in Dublin, Georgia.

Let 'em know you're there. That was my mom's big saying. She believed in the importance of self-assertion—be a steel magnolia instead of a shrinking violet.

My fantasy husband is John Grisham, even though he's been taken for many years. He's Southern. He's a lawyer. He's a great writer. And, p.s., he's successful. I'm very attracted to Southerners. Men bring out my Southern charm.

I think a good sense of humor is the secret to life. You can tackle serious topics and make them engaging by interjecting humor. I hope my new show will be the go-to place for a smart, compelling conversation about the people, events, and issues affecting us today.

Texan Ross Perot was one of my most difficult interviews. He was very pugnacious; when I challenged him, he got prickly. A tough one.

If you're in Arlington, don't miss the barbecue joint Red, Hot & Blue. They have great ribs, but it's actually all about the sides there—fried okra, coleslaw, collard greens, and green beans cooked within an inch of their lives.

H-e-e-e-y Suga. That's what my grandmother from Alex City, Alabama, always used to say. Even after years of living in New York I find myself saying "h-e-e-e-y" instead of "hi."

Virginia is green as far as the eye can see, which is one of the things I miss most about my home state.

I have Virginia mementos all around my house, including my UVA diploma, which I'm very proud of. I also own lots of Virginia T-shirts and sweatpants. I look like a walking advertisement for the Old Dominion every time I work out.

My perfect day in the South would start with grits and biscuits. Then I'd attend an African-American church service—I love gospel music. Next, I would go for a bike ride through the rolling hills of Charlottesville. Finally, I would find my way to a beautiful beach like Hilton Head, where I would eat fried shrimp, coleslaw, and hush puppies for dinner. It would be a very fattening day—I can tell you that much.

The last thing I scribbled on a paper napkin was an e-mail address. I took a picture of a house in London when I was there for the Queen's Jubilee. The owner recognized me and asked that I send him a copy. I still need to do that!

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