“What She Ate and Why I Wrote About It: Women, Food, and Biography” by Laura Shapiro
Biography as it’s usually practiced rarely pauses at the kitchen table to examine the food. Yet ordinary meals give us an incomparable vantage point on anybody’s life, whether it’s a person who loves to eat or a person who couldn’t care less. After all, food happens every day; it’s associated with every appetite, and it’s entangled with all the social and economic conditions that bear upon our days. What She Ate takes up the lives of six very different women—Dorothy Wordsworth, Rosa Lewis, Eleanor Roosevelt, Eva Braun, Barbara Pym, and Helen Gurley Brown—and tells their stories by putting the food right up front.
Laura Shapiro was a columnist at The Real Paper (Boston) before beginning a 16-year run at Newsweek, where she covered food, women’s issues and the arts and won several journalism awards. Her first book was Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (1986), which the University of California Press reissued in 2009 with a new Afterword. She is also the author of Something from the Oven: Revinventing Dinner in 1950s America (Viking, 2004), named in the Wall Street Journal as one of the five best books on American food; and Julia Child(Penguin Lives, 2007), which won the award for Literary Food Writing from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Her latest book is What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories (Viking), which Susan Stamberg of NPR called “seriously and hilariously researched culinary history.”