Julie Finnin Day
Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking: Cookbooks and Gender in Modern Americaby Jessamyn Neuhaus
From the first edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook to the latest works by today's celebrity chefs, cookbooks reflect more than just passing culinary fads. As historical artifacts, they offer a unique perspective on the cultures that produced them. In Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking, Jessamyn Neuhaus offers a perceptive and piquant analysis of the/i>/i>
From the first edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook to the latest works by today's celebrity chefs, cookbooks reflect more than just passing culinary fads. As historical artifacts, they offer a unique perspective on the cultures that produced them. In Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking, Jessamyn Neuhaus offers a perceptive and piquant analysis of the tone and content of American cookbooks published between the 1790s and the 1960s, adroitly uncovering the cultural assumptions and anxietiesparticularly about women and domesticitythey contain.
Neuhaus's in-depth survey of these cookbooks questions the supposedly straightforward lessons about food preparation they imparted. While she finds that cookbooks aimed to make readersmainly white, middle-class womeninto effective, modern-age homemakers who saw joy, not drudgery, in their domestic tasks, she notes that the phenomenal popularity of Peg Bracken's 1960 cookbook, The I Hate to Cook Book, attests to the limitations of this kind of indoctrination. At the same time, she explores the proliferation of bachelor cookbooks aimed at "the man in the kitchen" and the biases they display about male and female abilities, tastes, and responsibilities.
Neuhaus also addresses the impact of World War II rationing on homefront cuisine; the introduction of new culinary technologies, gourmet sensibilities, and ethnic foods into American kitchens; and developments in the cookbook industry since the 1960s. More than a history of the cookbook, Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking provides an absorbing and enlightening account of gender and food in modern America.
An excellent addition to the history of women's roles in America, as well as to the history of cookbooks.
Anne L. Bower
Sarah Eppler Janda
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
What People are saying about this
This detailed analysis of the gendered nature of American cookbooks surveys more cookbooks than any other work I'm aware of. The clear and consistent thesis is that these cookbooks reflect and reinforce a long-standing ideology of domesticity that situates women as the primary cooks, caretakers, and nurturers of the idealized nuclear family. With sound scholarship and a focus on prescriptive food literature, Manly Meals makes an original and useful contribution to our understanding of how gender roles are institutionalized and perpetuated.
Warren Belasco, senior editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink
Meet the Author
Jessamyn Neuhaus is an associate professor of U.S. history and popular culture at SUNY Plattsburgh. She is the author of Housework and Housewives in Modern American Advertising: Married to the Mop.
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