From Publishers Weekly
As the title implies, in her first book, freelance writer Schenone has attempted to cover more than a millennium in women's history, tossing in historically interesting recipes along the way. The results of this ambitious project, however, can't help but be broad, and the book is full of sweeping statements such as, "As cooks, Native American women lay the first claim to some of the greatest ingredients in the history of the world." A turgid introduction reaches even further back than 1,000 years to conjure a figure Schenone names "All Woman," whom she imagines as the first female on earth and imbues with all kinds of knowledge and curiosity. Later chapters are more fact-based and reliable. Indeed, when Schenone delves into the specific, her writing immediately improves. For example, a section in a chapter on the 19th century that details the development of urban peddlers and more specifically "hot corn women," is rich with description, evocative and offers information that is probably new to most readers. The author also does a commendable job of drawing the often-ignored connections among politics, women and food when describing events such as the 1917 food riots in New York City and lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s. The book is chockablock with recipes (often for oddities such as Apple Crisp Pronto from 1943, a concoction of packaged bread, margarine, honey and apples meant to help Rosie the Riveter get dinner on the table), period illustrations and sidebars, including one on Sara Josepha Hale, who standardized the Thanksgiving holiday.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
For centuries, society has dictated that one of a woman's most important roles is feeding the family. The integral process of feeding the family often involved more than merely cooking meals. For many women, food preparation might have also included planting, gathering, foraging, storing, shopping, socializing, serving, and cleaning up. In America, as in most other countries, women have traditionally been perceived as natural nurturers responsible for providing both food and comfort in large quantities. Schenone interweaves more than 50 diverse recipes with a wealth of historical anecdotes, trivia, and illustrations. Drawing from a wide variety of backgrounds and recipes, this lively, loving tribute to the female culinary experience crosses cultural and socioeconomic divides in authentic American fashion. Fascinating social history with a heaping helping of home cooking thrown in for good measure. Margaret Flanagan
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