Kate's Reviews > Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America

Something from the Oven by Laura Shapiro
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's review
May 13, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: foodwriting

This book is partly about food, and partly about the lives of women during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. It uses food and cooking to track the daily lives and expectations of women during those decades -- and also some of the marketing and media driving the status quo. But most entertaingly, it goes a long way towards explaining WHY it is that 50s food was so....weird.

[Take, for instance, "Red Crest Salad" -- chopped tomatoes, pickles, and strawberry Jell-O. Or an "unusual treat" of tomatoes with cheese, banana slices, and mayonnaise, browned in the oven. Or half a donut topped with canned cranberry sauce and cottage cheese. (Which actually doesn't sound that bad to me.) All of these wonders, btw, pgs 57-58.]

Entertaining chapters on the Pillsbury Bake Off and Betty Crocker, as well as trends in writing for women's magazines. In the end, the author wraps it up with an examination of why the seemingly conflicting messages of Betty Friedan and Julia Child were both so popular -- and at the same time. Big fan of this book.
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