Author(s): Laura Shapiro
"A beloved culinary historian's short takes on six famous women through the lens of food and cooking--what they ate and how their attitudes toward food offer surprising new insights into their lives. 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. It's 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"--
-Chock full of 'iconic repasts' and lesser but no-less-piquant morsels, What She Ate establishes Laura Shapiro as the founder of a delectable new literary genre: the culinary biography. 'It's never just food' is Shapiro's mantra as she sifts through letters, journals, manuscript drafts, and of course scads of recipes, to derive six thrilling 'food stories' spanning two centuries and a spectrum of appetites. Only as fundamental a subject as food and as skillful a writer as Shapiro could bring Dorothy Wordsworth, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Helen Gurley Brown together happily in one richly satisfying volume.- --Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast -The idea that eating habits reveal aspects of character is ever-intriguing, and it's presented here with charm and insight.- --Mimi Sheraton, former restaurant critic for the New York Times and author of 1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die -Laura Shapiro has done it again! She's given us a fascinating and wonderfully entertaining history of six women of the last two centuries you might never have thought of as foodies, yet here they are, distinguished by how differently they dealt with the overwhelming importance of food in their lives. What She Ate argues--and proves--that every woman has a food story. It ought to inspire all of us who love food to get busy on our memoirs.- --Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and author of Soda Politics Shows enormous grace and food savvy. The New York Times Book Review on Julia ChildPraise for Something From The Oven Deliciously readable. The New York Times Book Review"
Laura Shapiro has written on every food topic from champagne to Jell-O for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, Gourmet, and many other publications. She is the author of three classic books of culinary history. Her awards include a James Beard Journalism Award and one from the National Women's Political Caucus. She has been a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, where she also co-curated the widely acclaimed exhibition Lunch Hour NYC.