Women on Food: Charlotte Druckman and 115 Writers, Chefs, Critics, Television Stars, and Eaters by Charlotte Druckman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Charlotte Druckman gathers a wide swath of women who have food-related careers. There are essays published previously other places, interviews with specific characters, and group answers to some of her questions.
There is most definitely a certain amount of tension in these pages - female chefs are always asked about the female part of being chefs. So even in this attempt to bring more attention to them, they are forced into this position of answering the questions they always answer. And the answers are both important/expected and unimportant/mundane.
At one point, Charlotte asks them about how being female has impacted their career and almost to a face, all chefs of color are quick to respond that they are seen as their race first. (I sense Charlotte may have learned something about her own assumptions, based on her reflective essay on complicity, including her own, that is included later in the collection.)
This took me a long time to read and it is probably best as a coffee table book, one you pick up and read bits from, rather than trying to read it cover to cover. But I've added many restaurants to visit, cookbooks to try, publications to read, from the names in these pages.
I had a review copy so I can't quote directly but one of my favorite moments was when Charlotte asked which genres of food writing that are (erroneously) consistently assigned to men, and Jordana Rothman responds that she hopes to never read another article about a "bro discovering noodles." Hahahaha.
One essay I really enjoyed was "The Months of Magical Eating" by Tienlon Ho, about the medicinal nature of Chinese cuisine, a relationship between the writer and her father, and her pregnancy.
Another one was "Trapped In, Dining Out" by Osayi Endolyn, depicting what it is like to eat alone at a restaurant as a woman of color. (Spoiler alert - it is super frustrating and full of intrusive white people.)
I'm not a member of the Abrams Dinner Party this year, but I know those that are got this book this season! I got a review copy from the publisher through Edelweiss this time. There were a few pages that didn't display well in my eARC but I'm assuming it looks gorgeous in print. This comes out October 29, 2019, but I finished it early so I could include it in an upcoming foodie recommendations episode of the Reading Envy Podcast.
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