What She Ate by Laura Shapiro
Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories

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A culinary biographer serves up an eye-opening meal...A unique and delectable work that sheds new light on the lives of women, food, and men.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

"A collection of deft portraits in which food supplies an added facet to the whole.”
Slate

“Mouthwatering.”—Eater.com

A beloved culinary historian’s short takes on six famous women through the lens of food and cooking—what they ate and how their attitudes toward food offer surprising new insights into their lives.

Everyone eats, and food touches on every aspect of our lives—social and cultural, personal and political. Yet most biographers pay little attention to people’s attitudes toward food, as if the great and notable never bothered to think about what was on the plate in front of them. Once we ask how somebody relates to food, we find a whole world of different and provocative ways to understand her. Food stories can be as intimate and revealing as stories of love, work, or coming-of-age. Each of the six women in this entertaining group portrait was famous in her time, and most are still famous in ours; but until now, nobody has told their lives from the point of view of the kitchen and the table. 

It’s a lively and unpredictable array of women; what they have in common with one another (and us) is a powerful relationship with food. They include Dorothy Wordsworth, whose food story transforms our picture of the life she shared with her famous poet brother; Rosa Lewis, the Edwardian-era Cockney caterer who cooked her way up the social ladder; Eleanor Roosevelt,  First Lady and rigorous protector of the worst cook in White House history; Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress, who challenges our warm associations of food, family, and table; Barbara Pym, whose witty books upend a host of stereotypes about postwar British cuisine; and Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan, whose commitment to “having it all” meant having almost nothing on the plate except a supersized portion of diet gelatin.
 

About Laura Shapiro

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LAURA SHAPIRO is a journalist and historian whose work has appeared in many publications, including Newsweek, The New York Times, and Gourmet. She is the author of Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century and Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America. She lives in New York City.
 
Published July 25, 2017 by Viking. 318 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Cooking. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for What She Ate
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Apr 30 2017

A culinary biographer serves up an eye-opening meal...A unique and delectable work that sheds new light on the lives of women, food, and men.

Read Full Review of What She Ate: Six Remarkable ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Aug 09 2017

Several times throughout What She Ate, Shapiro repeats what surely is one of her life's mantras: "Food talks — but somebody has to hear it." How lucky for us readers that Shapiro has been listening so perceptively for decades to the language of food.

Read Full Review of What She Ate: Six Remarkable ... | See more reviews from NPR

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Rachel Cooke on Jan 21 2018

Somehow, though, this doesn’t convince. A woman who truly loved to eat would not, you feel, have been able to endure so many years of shrimp wiggle (don’t ask), stuffed eggs and watery prunes. And herein lies the major problem with Shapiro’s book.

Read Full Review of What She Ate: Six Remarkable ... | See more reviews from Guardian

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