'What She Ate' Recounts Prominent Women Through Food

From Eleanor Roosevelt to Eva Braun
Barbara Pym
Viking/Penguin Publishing Group

Barbara Pym

Learning Laura Shapiro's new book on women and food includes the stories of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, whose tenure was marked by some of the worst White House meals ever; Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler's mistress; and Helen Gurley Brown (did Cosmopolitan's iconic editor actually eat?) left me startled. It's sort of like lauding the Lucrezia Borgia of poisonous legend for a deft hand with seasoning.

Where is Julia Child? Lidia Bastianich? Fannie Farmer? Edna Lewis? But that's why "What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tell Their Stories" is such a fun read.

Spinning Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's famous saying, "tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are," Shapiro reveals the lives and times of these women through the food they ate. Besides those mentioned above, the list includes Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth; Rosa Lewis, the ambitious Cockney cook whose life inspired television's "The Duchess of Duke Street"; and Barbara Pym, the midcentury English novelist.

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Read more on these six remarkable women in the Chicago Tribune.