What She Ate by Laura Shapiro

  • Title:  What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food that Tells Their Stories
  • Author:  Laura Shapiro
  • Genre:  Nonfiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  July 2017 – Viking
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Everyone eats, and food touches on every aspect of our lives—social and cultural, personal and political. Yet most biographers pay little attention to people’s attitudes toward food, as if the great and notable never bothered to think about what was on the plate in front of them. Once we ask how somebody relates to food, we find a whole world of different and provocative ways to understand her. Food stories can be as intimate and revealing as stories of love, work, or coming-of-age. Each of the six women in this entertaining group portrait was famous in her time, and most are still famous in ours; but until now, nobody has told their lives from the point of view of the kitchen and the table. 

It’s a lively and unpredictable array of women; what they have in common with one another (and us) is a powerful relationship with food. They include Dorothy Wordsworth, whose food story transforms our picture of the life she shared with her famous poet brother; Rosa Lewis, the Edwardian-era Cockney caterer who cooked her way up the social ladder; Eleanor Roosevelt,  First Lady and rigorous protector of the worst cook in White House history; Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress, who challenges our warm associations of food, family, and table; Barbara Pym, whose witty books upend a host of stereotypes about postwar British cuisine; and Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan, whose commitment to “having it all” meant having almost nothing on the plate except a supersized portion of diet gelatin. (publisher)

My take:  What She Ate is an interesting book that, in the end, made me examine (and appreciate) my own food story. Of the six stories, two stood out for me. Shapiro introduced me to author Barbara Pym. Upon finishing her story I placed a couple of her novels on my TBR list. I’m not sure why she wasn’t there before! Equally interesting and more entertaining was Eleanor Roosevelt’s chapter. I’m always intrigued when I hear about people who treat food only as fuel and not a source of enjoyment. I loved learning about the food served at the White House during her husband’s presidency. All in all, I found What She Ate to be a worthwhile read and recommend it to fans of culinary biographies.


Praise for What She Ate:

Recommended Summer Reading
by ELLE, Bon Appétit, and Eater.

 

“A unique and delectable work that sheds new light on the lives of women, food, and men. .”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“…six crisply written, ardently researched, and entertainingly revelatory portraits of very different women with complicated relationships with eating and cooking…. A bounteous and elegant feast for hungry minds.”BookList, Starred Review

“Establishes Laura Shapiro as the founder of a delectable new literary genre: the culinary biography.”—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer-prize winning biographer

 

“The idea that eating habits reveal aspects of character is ever-intriguing, and it’s presented here with charm and insight.”—Mimi Sheraton, former restaurant critic for the New York Times and author of 1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die
 
“Laura Shapiro has done it again! She’s given us a fascinating and wonderfully entertaining history of six women of the last two centuries you might never have thought of as foodies, yet here they are, distinguished by how differently they dealt with the overwhelming importance of food in their lives.”—Marion Nestle, author of Soda Politics


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Shapiro has written on every food topic from champagne to Jell-O for The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe AtlanticSlateGourmet, and many other publications. She is the author of three classic books of culinary history. Her awards include a James Beard Journalism Award and one from the National Women’s Political Caucus. She has been a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, where she also co-curated the widely acclaimed exhibition Lunch Hour NYC.


 

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Sunday Post and a review: Living Large in Our Little House by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

you will know me (7:26)  the life she wants (9:27)  image001-2  Untitled-1

Last week on Bookfan:

sunshine beach (6:21) Berkley   pound for pound by Shannon Kopp

Reading plan for this week:

the secrets she kept (7:26)

Same as last week. We’re in the middle of a kitchen renovation so reading time has been limited.


  • living large in our little houseTitle:  Living Large in Our Little House
  • Author:  Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
  • Genre:  Non-fiction
  • Published:  June 2016 – Reader’s Digest
  • Source:  FSB Associates; Publisher

My take:  I’m a fan of the cable shows about finding the perfect tiny house to live in but I’m not sure it would be the right permanent housing choice for me. Maybe for a weekend.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell and her husband Dale found it to be the best choice for them. Kerri’s book is a combination memoir and How To guide for anyone thinking of making the leap to living in a little house. She uses her experiences of what to do and what not to do when building a small home. Included are lists of pantry/kitchen necessities, details about financial considerations, a helpful index, and a resource list – just to name a few. Kerri and Dale know what they’re talking about – they went from a three bedroom home in the suburbs to a 480 square feet home in the woods!

Several little house owners are spotlighted in the book. They all have unique experiences. There are many photographs scattered throughout. If you’re a fan of shows about this trend or you’re serious about making the move to a little house I think you’ll enjoy this book.


Author Bio:
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a journalist and author who has written a column on small space living for Parade.com. She’s also written on small space living for Mother Earth News and Realtor.com and has been interviewed extensively on her tiny house expertise. Her work has also appeared in Audubon MagazineEntrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo! News, MSN.com and NBC Digital’s pet channel. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Society of American Travel Writers, and the Society of Environmental Journalists, a past national board member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a past president of the Kansas City Press Club, Kerri’s other writing specialties includes animals and pets, business, travel, and the environment. She loves boating and fishing, hiking, and spending time with her husband of 30 years and their dogs. Kerri lives an intentional life with an eye toward sustainability in a 480-square-foot cabin in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and five “recycled” (rescue) mutts, which she documents on her blog, Living Large in Our Little House.

For more information visit her website http://livinglargeinourlittlehouse.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship by The Satellite Sisters

  • You're the Best (10:27)Title:  You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship
  • Authors:  The Satellite Sisters
  • Genre:  Nonfiction
  • Pages:  160
  • Published:  October 2015 – Prospect Park Books
  • Source:  Publicist

Description:  You’re the Best is a thank-you note to our female friends, our Satellite Sisters, the women we call when the best thing in our life happens – or the worst. Incorporating voices from 15 to 60, these essays, letters, lists, and texts illustrate – with plenty of the Satellite Sisters’ trademark humor and empathy – how we rely on our friends to get us up, get us going, get us through, and, most importantly, make us laugh.

The Satellite Sisters are Julie, Liz, Sheila, Monica, and Lian Dolan, five real sisters who first won national acclaim with their radio show, initially weekly on public radio and then daily on ABC Radio. Today, they connect with a  podcast, a blog, books, personal appearances, and social media.  (back of the book)

My take:  I discovered The Satellite Sisters when they were on ABC Radio and became an instant fan. I have six sisters and could relate to these five sisters like no one else. They made me laugh out loud and sometimes tear up as they shared their stories and experiences. Now I listen to their podcasts (via Stitcher) twice each week.

You’re the Best is filled with short essays and shorter (mostly) humorous pieces about friendship that had me nodding in agreement or laughing that laugh that makes people ask “what are you reading?” I thought it a great idea to have the next generation of Satellite Sisters (Dolan nieces, daughters and daughters-in-law) add their two-cents. Themes include Life, Love, Family, Play, and Change.

I enjoyed You’re the Best and think it would make a great gift this holiday season for sisters who are more like friends and friends who are more like sisters. Recommended.


About the Satellite Sisters and the Next Generation:
The Satellite Sisters—Julie, Liz, Sheila, Monica, and Lian Dolan—are five real sisters who believe that a sense of connection is what gives meaning to our lives. The Dolan sisters created the Satellite Sisters first as a radio show and website in 2000 and then became podcast pioneers with a devoted national fan base as well as best-selling authors.  Together they have won 13 Gracie Allen Awards for excellence in women’s media, including Talk Show of the Year and have appeared on CBS Sunday Morning and had a regular column in O Magazine for several years.  You’re the Best is expanded to include The Next Generation of Satellite Sisters – their daughters, daughters-in-laws, and nieces.

Visit the Satellite Sisters: Website :: Podcast :: Twitter :: Facebook


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hotdogs to Haute Cuisine

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Synopsis:

Baseball is a game that is identified with food. We even sing about it at every ballpark during the seventh inning stretch: “….buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…” The famous song was written by Jack Norworth in 1908. From the early part of the twentieth century until the 1980s, classic baseball fare consisted mostly of hot dogs, ice cream, peanuts, and Cracker Jack. Then ballparks slowly began to sell new items. A proliferation of new food offerings during the 1990s was fueled by the opening of twelve new major league ballparks. Now, teams around the country sell a variety of exotic food. Some stadiums have gone all out to showcase unique, gourmet-style food. Many parks emphasize regional food as well as having offerings from well-known local restaurants. There are also several ballparks where retired ballplayers are shaping new careers as signature food purveyors. “The new food era has brought such a wonderful gustatory experience at the ballparks with chef-prepared masterpieces, vegetarian and kosher delights, as well as amped up riffs on the hot dog and sausage,” says Bennett. The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine begins with the history of the first hot dog at a ball game and concludes with a culinary tour of all 30 major league ballparks.


My take:  If you have an avid baseball fan in your life The Joy of Ballpark Food would be an excellent choice for a Fathers Day or birthday gift. Bennett Jacobstein starts with the arrival of the hotdog in America, its place in baseball history and then moves on to the amazing culinary treats offered at the Major League ballparks. I was pleased to see my hometown Miller Park highlighted where, lately, the concessions are more palatable than the action on the field *sigh*. Any fan will enjoy paging through the book to see what other regions of the US and Canada offer in the way of concessions. Deborah Jacobstein’s photographs of various offerings brighten almost every page. The paperback edition is coffee table size and is sure to spark conversation. Recommended.


Bennett-PhotoAbout the author: Bennett Jacobstein lives in San Jose, CA. He is a retired librarian and publisher of demographic materials. He currently works during the baseball season in the concessions stand at Municipal Stadium, home of minor league baseball’s Class A Advanced San Jose Giants. Every minor leaguer dreams of making it to the big leagues. Bennett had his dream fulfilled when he worked as a concessions stand substitute at three Oakland Athletics games during the 2013 season. He enjoys both baseball and food but considers himself a much better eater than ball player. He had a two-year Little League career in which he went two seasons without getting a hit. HIs only RBI was when he got hit by the pitch with bases loaded. When not batting or sitting on the bench, he would be found in right field praying that the ball didn’t get hit to him. The three greatest days of his life were the day he married his wife Debbie, the day his daughter Aviva was born, and the day he first successfully replaced the nachos cheese bag in the dispenser at the San Jose Giants’ concession stand. Bennett published The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine in January 2015. It is available for sale on Amazon. All of the royalties from the sale of The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine are being donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. To learn more, Go to http://www.ballparkfood.org/


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A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

  • a royal experiment (H.Holt 11:14)Title:  A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III
  • Author:  Janice Hadlow
  • Genre:  Biography
  • Published:  November 2014 – Henry Holt
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  To Americans, King George III has long been doubly famous – as the “tyrant” from whom colonial revolutionaries wrested a nation’s liberty and, owing to his late-life illness, as “the mad king.” In A Royal Experiment, he is also a man with a poignant agenda. He comes to the throne in 1760, at age twenty-two, determined to be a new kind of king, one whose power will be rooted in the affection and approval of his people. He is equally resolute about being a new kind of man, a husband able to escape the extraordinary family dysfunction of his Hanoverian predecessors and maintain a faithful, companionable marriage and domestic harmony.

… His wife, Queen Charlotte, shares his sense of moral purpose, and together they can raise their tribe of thirteen sons and daughters in a climate of loving attention. But in a rapidly more populous and prosperous England, throughout years of revolution in America and in France, the struggle to achieve a new balance between politics and privacy places increasing stress on George and Charlotte as their children grow into adulthood. The story that roils across the long arc of George’s life and reign is high drama – tragic and riveting.  (from the book flap)

My take:  If you’re a fan of books about anything royal you’ll want to read A Royal Experiment. Author Janice Hadlow’s meticulous research of the Hanoverians is obvious and presented in a way that the reader feels she is missing no detail about their lives. You’ll get an insider’s look at the ups and downs of being one of the family. I was dismayed and, at some points, even felt sympathy for all involved.

At 600+ pages this is a big book and the print is not large (think textbook) – so be prepared. For that reason alone it’s one to consider for the eReader. I was glad to see a section that included portraits of all the principals. Also helpful is a family tree.  A Royal Experiment is an interesting work that almost begs for its own cable series. I would definitely tune in!

Giveaway (US) and Spotlight on Dr. Mütter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

DrMuttersMarvels Jacket Art

A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country’s most famous museum of medical oddities

Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century.

Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.

Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.

Award-winning writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter’s efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation—despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them: Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter’s “overly” modern medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of nineteenth-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the “P. T. Barnum of the surgery room.”

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Praise for Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

“In her deftly crafted narrative, the author provides an absorbing account of the charismatic surgeon’s life and career as well as a vivid look at the medical practices and prejudices of his time. Aptowicz draws nicely on Mütter’s speeches and lectures to reveal the depth of his empathetic philosophies and humanist approach.” – Kirkus Starred Review
“If you aren’t familiar with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, then you are doing a serious disservice to your sensibilities.” – Hothouse Magazine
“Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is a dizzying dervish of a poet, an astounding talent, a deft lyricist whose patented take on this dopey world is dazzling in its originality. Everything she encounters is fair game, and she jolts us into unexpected, delightful recognition.” – Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzle
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About the author:
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Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the author of six books of poetry (including Dear Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut,Working Class Represent, Oh, Terrible Youth and Everything is Everything) as well as the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” On the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) podcast Art Works, host Josephine Reed introduced Cristin as being “something of a legend in NYC’s slam poetry scene. She is lively, thoughtful, and approachable looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art (in general) and slam poetry (in particular) can create.” In July 2010, she was named the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, where she spent the year researching and writing a book on Thomas Dent Mütter, founder of the Philadelphia’s (in)famous Mütter Museum. It was during this residency year that she was also awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.
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DrMuttersMarvels Jacket Art
Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine

Audiobook Brief: Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman by James C. Humes

churchillSynopsis: (Publisher) Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman reveals the astonishingly accurate predictions of Britain’s most famous prime minister and how his critics’ perceptions of them shaped his political career. Who could have foreseen the start of World War I twenty-five years before the assassination of a Serbian archduke plunged Europe into war? Who could have predicted the rise of al-Qaeda nearly eight decades before anyone had heard of Osama bin Laden? Winston Churchill did. Now for the first time, bestselling author James C. Humes reveals these and other shocking predictions made by this legendary figure. Churchill didn’t need a crystal ball to tell the future. Using his skills as a historian, he studied patterns of the past to make his eerily accurate forecasts, including the rise of European fascism, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the exact day of his own death as he entered his final years. In fascinating detail, Humes’ astonishing biography documents the spot-on prophecies Churchill foretold and the political consequences he endured for sharing them.

“The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward”  Winston Churchill, 1944

My take: If you are a fan of Churchill you’ll want to read or listen to this book. It would also be a great gift! I found it interesting as well as informative – both on a level that forced a “Wow!” out of me from time to time. Although I enjoyed listening to the book I would recommend also reading the print book. I had to stop and ‘rewind’ more than a few times to get the full gist of what had just been said. If I’d been reading the actual book there would have been a lot of highlighting involved.

That said, I thought narrator Matthew Brenher did a wonderful job with James C. Humes’ book. His Churchill voice was  very good and fit perfectly into the narrative of each passage.

I find myself wanting to read more about Churchill and I see that Mr. Humes has written a few more so I’ll add them to my TBR list. Recommended.

Source: I purchased the audiobook.