Kristen Northrup's Reviews > Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century

Perfection Salad by Laura Shapiro
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Jan 04, 09

bookshelves: borrowed, food, nonfiction, womens-studies
Read in January, 2009

I'd already read Shapiro's follow-up to this, Something From the Oven, and it was a hoot. This one was much drier. In part, probably, because it wasn't as goofy an era. I did bog down a few times, but then it would pick up again. There weren't as many specifics on the food as I would have liked. You heard over and over again what the home economists were assigning people to eat, but not much about what the public was eating instead and really not much about the reasoning behind those healthy selections. It was particularly frustrating to hit the bit near the end that described the big fad to sweeten up all the food (marshmallows in everything) but not why it happened and who was behind it. The social analysis was still interesting, however. Especially the overall thesis that home economists had pretty low opinions of both food and women, and ended up doing neither any favors. One factoid that stood out due to current events was the belief that it was the responsibility of the homemaker to have a chemistry set at home, and know how to use it, in order to check purchased foods for dangerous additives, like say melamine.
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