Recipes for Reading
Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories
The community cookbook is a familiar item in many kitchens. Usually compiled by women and sold to raise funds for a charitable cause, these collections of recipes may seem to be utilitarian objects that exhibit little if any narrative interest. But this is hardly the case. In Recipes for Reading, scholars from a variety of disciplines examine community cookbooks as complex texts deserving serious study. The contributors contend that such cookbooks have stories to tell about the lives and values of the women who wrote them, stories that are autobiographical in most cases, historical in some, and fictive in others.
The volume is divided into three sections. Part One provides a historical overview of community cookbooks, a discussion of their narrative strategies, and insights into the linguistic peculiarities of recipes. Part Two contains essays about particular cookbooks and their relationship to specific cultural groups. Examined here are Methodist, Mormon, and Canadian recipe collections and a recent cookbook from the National Council of Negro Women. Part Three considers a range of community cookbooks in terms of their culinary, historical, ethnic, and literary contexts. Included is a reading of the novel Like Water for Chocolate, an analysis of an early Jewish cookbook, and a look at how Mexican history and culinary changes are paralleled in cookbooks of the nineteenth century.
"This book makes a significant contribution to cultural studies and women's studies. Based on sound and thorough scholarship, it will appeal not only to scholars, but also to a wider audience interested in food, cooking, and cookbooks."—Susan J. Leonardi, University of Maryland, College Park
"This is an exciting interdisciplinary collection."—Barbara Haber, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College