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Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (Modern Library Food Series)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2004

    Fascinating Piece of Social History

    'One of the major civilizing influences in the American kitchen was widely recognized to be white sauce.' Although you may be inclined to think that a book containing this line would be dull as dish water, this book is actually wonderful, giving great insights into the role of women in late 19th and early 20th century America. Perfection Salad details how, in those years, cooking for a household was beginning the transformation from a labor-intensive, full-time task to one made more efficient by the beginning of modern time-saving conveniences and uniform instruction. Another fascinating aspect examined in this book is the role of food preparation in defining social class. With the establishment of cooking schools in many urban areas, the social elite endeavored to elevate the lower classes through training the women of this class to better feed their families and run their households. The book very nicely illustrates the 'paternalistic' attitude of the upper class toward the lower class, particularly in relation to the immigrants who were packing the slums of the large cities during this time period. The writing is at times a little tedious; so a skimmed some portions of it. But most of it is fascinating, sharing information I have not gotten in my other readings in social history. Even if you are not interested in cooking, you will enjoy Perfection Salad.

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