Women and the Culinary Arts

The purpose of this pathfinder is to get the juices flowing for a research project on women and cooking. Because this is an attempt to complement the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women's (NCCROW) culinary collection, many of the suggested readings can be found in our library (WC). However, only our circulating stacks are available via TULANET (login: tulanet). The culinary collection is in closed-stacks and thus is not accessible via TULANET. All books found in our library are indicated here. The others can be found at Howard-Tilton Memorial Library (HT) or the medical school library downtown (MED).

One place to begin research on women and cooking is women in the history of cooking:

Hale, William Harlan. The Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking through the Ages. New York: American Heritage, 1968. (WC)
Shapiro, Laura. Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1986. (WC)

The NCCROW houses many nineteenth-century cookbooks.

What role has cooking played in women's individual lives? To some it is an important tool in an established home, as indicated by these home economics books:

Markham, Gervase. The English Housewife. Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1986. (WC)
O'Leary, Iris Prouty. Cooking in the Vocational School as Training for Home Making. Washington, Govt. print. off., 1915. (WC)

There have also been anthropological studies of cooking.

Babb, Florence E. Between Field and Cooking Pot: The Political Economy of Marketwomen in Peru. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989. (HT)
Lenten, Roelie. Cooking Under the Volcanoes: Communal Kitchens in the Southern Peruvian City of Arequipa. Amsterdam: CEDLA, c1993. (HT)

The culture of cooking can also be found in literature. Take these books, for example:

Trillin, Calvin. American Fried: Adventures of a Happy Eater. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1974. (WC)
Wechsberg, Joseph. Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure. New York: Knopf, 1966. (WC)

Another place to begin research on women and cooking is with the cookbook. While some cookbooks do target men, the market has traditionally focused on women. These cookbooks can be found in our collection:

Berolzheimer, Ruth, ed. The American Woman's Cook Book. Garden City, NY: Garden City, 1951. (WC)
Crutcher, Minnie Selvin. The Single Girl's Hostess Handbook. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1969. (WC)
Weaver, William Woys, ed. A Quaker Woman's Cookbook: The Domestic Cookery of Elizabeth Ellicott Lea. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. (WC)
Zavin, Theodora and Freda Stuart. The Working Wives' Cook Book. New York: Crown, 1963. (WC)

Many cookbooks have become standard testaments to the institution of cooking. The Newcomb College Center for Research on Women's library holds several copies of the Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker and Fannie Farmer's The Boston-Cooking School Cook Book and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

It may also be helpful to explore regional cooking practices:

Beoku-Betts, Josephine. "We Got Our Own Way of Cooking Things: Women, Food, and Preservation of Cultural Identity Among the Gullan." Gender & Society Vol. 9 (Oct 1995): 535-55. (WC)
Gutierrez, C. Paige. Cajun Foodways. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1992. (WC)
Loomis, Susan Herrmann. "The Robust Cookery of American Farm Women." Gourmet (Apr 1991): 88-9+. (WC)
Madge, Clare. "Collected Food and Domestic Knowledge in the Gambia, West Africa." The Geographic Journal (Nov 1994): 280-94. (HT)

Cooking has traditionally been a female domestic chore, but a male-dominated profession. It may be interesting to scan the following articles to see how many men versus women chefs are profiled:

"Lone Star Chefs and Cookbook Pleasures." Gourmet (Sept 1994): 74+. (WC)
"Random Notes: Chefs as Teachers." Gourmet (Sept 1994): 70. (WC)
Sax, Richard. "Chefs Across America: Culinary Stars Show Their Stripes." Gourmet (Apr 1993): 146. (WC)

Other sources include the Radcliffe Culinary Times in the vertical files of the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women's small journals collection. Further, the Center directs an annual program, the Culinary History Symposium. The tapes and flyers from the programs may provide useful information.

To continue the brainstorming, it may be interesting to explore or speculate why some phrases, such as the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, came about. It may also be informative to know what is covered in etiquette classes and who attends them. Personal interviews are an excellent primary source of information. Do women really mind when they are stuck with the cooking? You could compare and contrast the women that enjoy the cooking and those who don't.

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