Synopses & Reviews
In this captivating blend of culinary history and popular culture, the award-winning author of Perfection Salad shows us what happened when the food industry elbowed its way into the kitchen after World War II, brandishing canned hamburgers, frozen baked beans, and instant piecrusts. Big Business waged an all-out campaign to win the allegiance of American housewives, but most women were suspicious of the new foods—and the make-believe cooking they entailed. With sharp insight and good humor, Laura Shapiro shows how the ensuing battle helped shape the way we eat today, and how the clash in the kitchen reverberated elsewhere in the house as women struggled with marriage, work, and domesticity. This unconventional history overturns our notions about the ’50s and offers new thinking on some of its fascinating figures, including Poppy Cannon, Shirley Jackson, Julia Child, and Betty Friedan.
"In the fifties, we're always told, the food industry barged into the American kitchen, waving TV dinners, and destroyed home cooking. Not so fast, Shapiro says....[V]ery funny, and also subtle." The New Yorker
"[A] well-researched history of the relationship between the American woman's domestic role as family cook and the American food industry....[H]ighly readable." Library Journal
"Entertaining and well researched, but disjointed." Kirkus Reviews
"Shapiro's graceful, flowing prose makes this history of both cooking and women utterly compelling." Booklist
A lively narrative history of how American home cooking changed in the 1950s from "anti-cooking" marketing to Julia Child.
In this delightfully surprising history, Laura Shapiro author of the classic Perfection Salad recounts the prepackaged dreams that bombarded American kitchens during the fifties. Faced with convincing homemakers that foxhole food could make it in the dining room, the food industry put forth the marketing notion that cooking was hard; opening cans, on the other hand, wasn't. But women weren't so easily convinced by the canned and plastic-wrapped concoctions and a battle for both the kitchen and the true definition of homemaker ensued. Beautifully written and full of wry observation, this is a fun, illuminating, and definitely easy-to-digest look back at a crossroads in American cooking.
In this delightfully surprising history, Shapiro author of the classic Perfection Salad recounts the prepackaged dreams that bombarded American kitchens during the fifties.
About the Author
Laura Shapiro was an award-winning writer at Newsweek for more than fifteen years, and has written for many publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Granta, and Gourmet.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Do Women Like to Cook?
1. The Housewife's Dream
2. Something from the Oven
3. Don't Check Your Brains at the Kitchen Door
4. I Hate to Cook
5. Is She Real?
6. Now and Forever
Permissions and Credits