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What She Ate : Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories
by Laura Shapiro


Overview - A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2017
One of NPR Fresh Air's "Books to Close Out a Chaotic 2017"
NPR's Book Concierge Guide To 2017's Great Reads

" How lucky for us readers that Shapiro has been listening so perceptively for decades to the language of food." -- Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air

Six "mouthwatering" ( Eater.com ) s hort takes on six famous women through the lens of food and cooking, probing how their attitudes toward food can offer surprising new insights into their lives, and our own.  Read more...


 
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More About What She Ate by Laura Shapiro
 
 
 
Overview
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2017
One of NPR Fresh Air's "Books to Close Out a Chaotic 2017"
NPR's Book Concierge Guide To 2017's Great Reads

"How lucky for us readers that Shapiro has been listening so perceptively for decades to the language of food." --Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air

Six "mouthwatering" (Eater.com) short takes on six famous women through the lens of food and cooking, probing how their attitudes toward food can offer surprising new insights into their lives, and our own.

Everyone eats, and food touches on every aspect of our lives--social and cultural, personal and political. Yet most biographers pay little attention to people's attitudes toward food, as if the great and notable never bothered to think about what was on the plate in front of them. Once we ask how somebody relates to food, we find a whole world of different and provocative ways to understand her. Food stories can be as intimate and revealing as stories of love, work, or coming-of-age. Each of the six women in this entertaining group portrait was famous in her time, and most are still famous in ours; but until now, nobody has told their lives from the point of view of the kitchen and the table.

What She Ate is a lively and unpredictable array of women; what they have in common with one another (and us) is a powerful relationship with food. They include Dorothy Wordsworth, whose food story transforms our picture of the life she shared with her famous poet brother; Rosa Lewis, the Edwardian-era Cockney caterer who cooked her way up the social ladder; Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and rigorous protector of the worst cook in White House history; Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress, who challenges our warm associations of food, family, and table; Barbara Pym, whose witty books upend a host of stereotypes about postwar British cuisine; and Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan, whose commitment to "having it all" meant having almost nothing on the plate except a supersized portion of diet gelatin.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780525427643
  • ISBN-10: 0525427643
  • Publisher: Viking
  • Publish Date: July 2017
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Cooking > History
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Women
Books > History > Women

 
BookPage Reviews

A literary and culinary feast

Everyone’s got a food story, writes culinary historian Laura Shapiro, but most will never be told. Shaprio believes that one’s relationship with food typically defines who we are, and What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories profiles six vastly different women and their appetites: author, poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of William; British chef Rosa Lewis, known as the “Queen of Cooks,” whose champions included King Edward VII; first lady Eleanor Roosevelt; Hitler’s mistress and eventual wife, Eva Braun; British novelist Barbara Pym; and writer and publisher Helen Gurley Brown. Each of these women is fascinating, and Shapiro’s carefully researched, astute writing sheds light on their unique places in history, as well as the culinary trends of their time.

Take, for example, Roosevelt, who proclaimed herself “incapable of enjoying food.” Shapiro asserts that instead, Roosevelt had “an intense relationship with food” all of her life, bringing the home economics movement to the White House while insisting on hiring “the most reviled cook in presidential history,” who served dishes like Shrimp Wiggle—shrimp and canned peas heated in white sauce, on toast.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Hitler’s consort, Braun, regularly sipped champagne while the rest of Europe suffered complete devastation. She adored treats but considered keeping her figure of utmost importance, eventually choosing to kill herself with cyanide rather than by gunshot so she could be a “beautiful corpse.”

British novelist Pym “was not a food writer, but she saw the world as if she were,” leaving behind diaries and 88 notebooks that proved to be a culinary historian’s dream, often including shopping lists and recipes. And while her literary characters sipped vast quantities of Ovaltine and tea, Pym showed in both her books and in her life that “good food can be found anywhere.”

Each of the six essays in Shapiro’s What She Ate is a culinary and historical delight. Feast on them slowly so as not to miss a crumb.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews