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What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories Hardcover – July 25, 2017
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“Laura Shapiro has put together a rich meal. . . . A seriously and hilariously researched culinary history.”
—Susan Stamberg, NPR Morning Edition
“[F]ascinating . . . Shapiro, like a consummate maître d', sets down plate after plate . . . and an amazing thing happens: Slowly the more familiar accounts of each of [the women’s] lives recede and other, messier narratives emerge. . . . How lucky for us readers that Shapiro has been listening so perceptively for decades to the language of food.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
“If you want to know what makes a woman of substance, consider the substances she consumes…Fascinating.”
—The New York Post
“If you find the subject of food to be both vexing and transfixing, you’ll love . . . What She Ate.”
“Such a fun read . . . Shapiro deftly uses food to link one woman to another—and to us today. . . . Writing this book, Shapiro notes, has made her ‘aware of all the food stories that will never be told’ . . . A deliciously satisfying read.”
“Shapiro approaches her subject like a surgeon, analytical tools sharpened. The result is a collection of essays that are tough, elegant and fresh.”
“A collection of deft portraits in which food supplies an added facet to the whole . . . What She Ateredeems the whole sentimental, self-indulgent genre of food writing.”
—Moira Hodgson, Wall Street Journal
“Delectable . . . Buy this book, read this book and then spend a few seconds before every meal thinking about what message the dish sitting in front of you could be sending to your dinner companions.”
“History gets plated.”
“Simply a fun read.”
“Fascinating . . . you’ll quickly see that food choices are more revealing than you might expect.”
“Clever . . . This dissection of diet is a telling window into the lives of these fascinating historical figures.”
"If anyone knows how to gather a group of women together, it’s [Shapiro]. . . . Her nose for a good story doesn’t fail her.”
“An unconventional approach…[that] works deliciously.”
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Six crisply written, ardently researched, and entertainingly revelatory portraits of very different women with complicated relationships with eating and cooking…. A bounteous and elegant feast for hungry minds.”
—BookList, (starred review)
"A unique and delectable work that sheds new light on the lives of women, food, and men.”
“Offering an interesting angle from which to view the lives of various women, [What She Ate] will appeal to not only food readers but also to anyone wishing to learn more about women’s history.”
“Like a textbook for my own feminist food studies curriculum.”
—Austin American Statesman
“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
“[Laura Shapiro] changed the way I thought about American food, and did so in the most entertaining and informative way possible.”
About the Author
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.
Top customer reviews
Rosa Lewis rose from being a servant to becoming the foremost chef of her age. Her ticket to high society was food. Eva Braun, was more into champagne than nutritious food. Although Hitler was a vegetarian, he binged on champagne and sugar.
Eleanor Roosevelt used food as a weapon. Angered by her husband’s affair with Lucy Mercer, she served some of the worst meals ever encountered in the White House. Barbara Pym’s novels are filled with the type of food nice English ladies served to their clerics. People may think the food was bland, but Pym presents it as a good background to the society of the day.
Helen Gurley brown appreciated food, only as it related to the man in her life. I suspect that could be said for the other women, but Brown indulged her man while being practically anorexic herself.
This is a fascinating book. I hadn’t realized how much we can learn about people, not only women, from how they approach food. The book doesn’t psychoanalyze these women, but some themes are evident such as Eleanor Roosevelt using food as pay back. I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in how women express themselves through food.
I received this book from Viking Penguin for this review.