Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture

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University of Iowa Press, Apr 1, 2001 - Cooking - 238 pages
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Who cooks dinner in American homes? It's no surprise that “Mom” remains the overwhelming answer. Cooking and all it entails, from grocery shopping to chopping vegetables to clearing the table, is to this day primarily a woman's responsibility. How this relationship between women and food developed through the twentieth century and why it has endured are the questions Sherrie Inness seeks to answer in Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture.

By exploring a wide range of popular media from the first half of the twentieth century, including cookbooks, women's magazines, and advertisements, Dinner Roles sheds light on the network of sources that helped perpetuate the notion that cooking is women's work. Cookbooks and advertisements provided valuable information about the ideals that American society upheld. A woman who could prepare the perfect Jell-O mold, whip up a cake with her new electric mixer, and still maintain a spotless kitchen and a sunny disposition was the envy of other housewives across the nation.

Inness begins her exploration not with women but with men-those individuals often missing from the kitchen who were taught their own set of culinary values. She continues with the study of juvenile cookbooks, which provided children with their first cooking lessons. Chapters on the rise of electronic appliances, ethnic foods, and the 1950s housewife all add to our greater understanding of women's evolving roles in American culinary culture.

 

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Contents

Chapter 1 Bachelor Bait Mens Cookbooks and the Male Cooking Mystique
17
Chapter 2 The Enchantment of MixingSpoons Cooking Lessons for Girls and Boys
37
Chapter 3 Paradise Pudding Peach Fluff and Prune Perfection Dainty Dishes and the Construction of Femininity
52
Chapter 4 Wafe Irons and Banana Mashers Selling Mrs Consumer on Electric Kitchen Gadgets
71
Chapter 5 Fearsome Dishes International Cooking and Orientalism between the Wars
88
Chapter 6 Its Fun Being Thrifty Gendered Cooking Lessons during the Depression
109
Chapter 7 Wear This Uniform Proudly Mrs America Rosie the Riveter in the Kitchen
124
Chapter 8 Of Casseroles and Canned Foods Building the Happy Housewife in the Fifties
141
Notes
165
Works Cited
187
Index
217
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About the author (2001)


Sherrie Inness is associate professor of English at Miami University. She is the author or editor of eleven books, including the forthcoming Kitchen Culture in America and Breaking Boundaries: New Perspectives on Women's Regional Writing (Iowa, 1997).

 

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