Most of us think that cookbooks are just a collection of recipes to feed the body. In Eat My Words: Reading Women's Lives Through the Cookbooks They Wrote
, Janet Theophano shows that cookbooks provide food for the mind and the soul as well. Beginning with 18th century and moving up through the present day, Theophano captures the stories and voices of cookbook writers and the ways in which writing allowed them to assert their individuality and structure their lives at a time when women were second class citizens. The selection of books Janet Theophano looks at is delicious: 18th century English housekeeping books that educated women during their long hours in the kitchen; A Date with a Dish,
the classic that commemorated the slave roots of southern African American cooking, a 1950s US Chinese cookbook, and the contemporary masterpieces of Lynne Rosetto Kaspar and Alice Waters.
Janet Theophano is Associate Director of the College of General Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. A leading social historian, she writes widely on food and foodways in American life.