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Willan, Anne

Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today

Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today

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From the publisher

Anne Willan, multi-award-winning culinary historian, cookbook writer, cooking teacher, and founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, explores the lives and work of women cookbook authors whose important books have defined cooking over the past three hundred years. Beginning with the first published cookbook by Hannah Woolley in 1661, up to Alice Waters today, these women, and books, created the canon of the American table.

Focusing on the figures behind the recipes, Women in the Kitchen traces the development of American home cooking from the first, early colonial days to transformative cookbooks by Fannie Farmer, Irma Rombauer, Julia Child, Edna Lewis, and Marcella Hazan. Willan offers a short biography of each influential woman, including her background, and a description of the seminal books she authored. These women inspired one another, and in part owe their places in cooking history to those who came before them.

Featuring fifty original recipes, as well as updated versions Willan has tested and modernized for the contemporary kitchen, this engaging narrative seamlessly moves through history to help readers understand how female cookbook authors have shaped American cooking today.

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From Chef Scott

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This is a remarkable and insightful book that pays homage to the influential women who have shaped culinary history. This book is not just a collection of biographies; it's a compelling narrative that weaves together the stories of twelve pioneering women cookbook authors, exploring their impact on the way we cook and eat. It offers a unique and enlightening perspective on the evolution of cooking, from the 17th century to the present day.

Each chapter is dedicated to one of these trailblazing women, ranging from early figures like Hannah Woolley and Amelia Simmons to modern-day icons like Julia Child and Edna Lewis. The author delves into the lives and works of these women, providing context for their contributions and the eras in which they lived. These profiles are meticulously researched and richly detailed, offering readers a deeper understanding of each woman’s culinary legacy.

One of the most engaging aspects of "Women in the Kitchen" is its exploration of how these women not only influenced cooking techniques and trends but also challenged the social and cultural norms of their times. The book highlights their creativity, resilience, and passion for food, which helped pave the way for future generations of cooks and food writers.

The author’s writing style is both informative and captivating, making the book a pleasure to read. The narrative is enhanced by historical context, personal anecdotes, and excerpts from the cookbooks themselves. This approach brings the stories to life, allowing readers to appreciate the historical significance of these women's work and the lasting impact they have had on culinary arts.

"Women in the Kitchen" also offers a fascinating look at the evolution of cookbooks as a genre, showing how these publications have reflected and influenced changing tastes, technologies, and social dynamics. The book underscores the important role cookbooks play in documenting culinary history and shaping domestic life.

Visually, the book is elegantly presented, with illustrations and photographs that add a visual dimension to the stories. These images, along with the thoughtful layout and design, enhance the reader's experience and engagement with the material.

In addition to being a historical exploration, "Women in the Kitchen" is an inspirational read that celebrates the achievements of women in the culinary field. It serves as a reminder of the power of food to cross boundaries, create communities, and tell stories.

This is a beautifully written and deeply researched book that offers a unique perspective on culinary history. It’s a tribute to the women who have played a crucial role in shaping our culinary landscape, making it an essential read for anyone interested in food history, culinary arts, or the role of women in shaping our cultural heritage.