October is National Cookbook Month. I’ve written about cookbooks with some regularity, thinking through their many roles and meanings as: texts, technical guides, objects, ephemera, historical evidence, collector’s items, keepsakes, family heirlooms, art, and symbols. I’m celebrating this month with a round up of some of my past posts, which examine cookbooks from these various perspectives.
Teaching Food Studies, Cookbooks & Writing
How do cookbooks speak? What stories do they tell—and whose? What do cookbooks reveal about power and how it operates? How do cookbooks communicate and construct gender? These are some of the questions my students and I pondered in our course “Food and Gender in U.S. Popular Culture” at Brown University during a cookbook workshop.
The Woman Suffrage Cookbook of 1886: Culinary Evidence of Women Finding a New Voice
The Woman Suffrage Cookbook (1886), edited by Mrs. Hattie A. Burr, was created as a fundraising tool for Massachusetts suffragists, but it also provided a powerful new voice. It communicated with women of all classes in the common language of the cookbook about not only food and domesticity, but also the radical cause of women’s right to vote.
Nika Hazelton’s 1963 Rules for Judging Cookbooks
The author of thirty cookbooks and innumerable articles on food for major newspapers and magazines, Nika Hazelton had little patience for those who purchased cookbooks as “escapist literature.” Instead, in a 1963 article in the New York Times, she laid out in black and white exactly how one ought to judge if a cookbook was up to snuff.
Ann Seranne: America’s #1 Expert on Blender Cookery
The author of dozens of cookbooks, Ann Seranne published with Eileen Gaden The Blender Cookbook in 1961 to rave reviews. Not at all gimmicky, the cookbook was heralded by Craig Claiborne as an inspired, functional, and welcome resource, penned by “probably the world’s leading authorities on what a blender will and will not do.”
Chicken Fricasee Face-Off: 18th Century Haute Cuisine versus 1950s Can-Opener Cooking
This essay compares two recipes for Chicken Fricassee: Francois Massialot’s recipe, “Poulets en Fricasée au Vin de Champagn” from Le Nouveau Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois (1748) and Poppy Cannon’s “Chicken with White Wine and White Grapes” from The Can-Opener Cookbook (1953). While it may appear at first glance that Massialot pens a culinarily superior recipe, I argue Cannon’s is just as intriguing, as it reveals the struggles and desires of the 1950s American housewife.
Defining American Food in ‘The Saturday Evening Post All-American Cookbook’
This post considers the contentious question, “What is American food?” as it analyzes the answers provided by the Saturday Evening Post All-Amerian Cookbook, published in 1976. The cookbook features five hundred recipes, considerable discussion of “American” ingredients, dishes, values, and freedoms—as well as reproductions of Norman Rockwell’s covers and food advertisements included in the Post over the years.
Cooking Up a Storm at the 2013 Cookbook Conference
This post summarizes the various panels I attended at the 2013 Roger Smith Cookbook Conference, including presentations on cookbooks as status symbols, wartime cookbooks, cookbooks and social class, children’s cookbooks, exoticism in cookbooks, and White House cooking.
Top image credit: Emily Contois, 2016