Award-winning writer Laura Shapiro was at Newsweek for more than fifteen years. The author of Perfection Salad, she has written for many other publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Granta, and Gourmet.
Shapiro (Perfection Salad) offers a well-researched history of the relationship between the American woman's domestic role as family cook and the American food industry. The book documents the food industry's attempt to reinvent cooking during the 1950s. Its marketing strategy centered on convincing women that purchasing unappetizing packaged food products would free them from the unpleasant chore of cooking. However, to the chagrin of food manufacturers, most American women saw house cleaning as the dreaded chore but enjoyed providing food for their family. Simultaneously, another trend was vying for the attention of the sophisticated homemaker. Julia Child emerged and encouraged women to "take charge of their own world and to cook something very good from scratch." Shapiro argues that this second trend was indicative of women's search for greater independence not only from the food industry but from society's constrained gender roles. Even as someone who sides with the "cooking is a chore" camp, this reviewer found Shapiro's book highly readable. Recommended for public libraries.-Cathy Carpenter, Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"A stylish and witty history of women and food. Shapiro brings distinction to the ordinary as she brilliantly redefines an important period in our recent past."