Thursday, February 13, 2020


12 inspiring ladies, that's who!

Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 toToday
by Anne Willan

Culinary historian Anne Willan traces the origins of American cooking through profiles of twelve essential women cookbook writers—from Hannah Woolley in the mid-1600s to Fannie Farmer, Julia Child, and Alice Waters—highlighting their key historical contributions and most representative recipes.

Anne Willan, multi-award-winning culinary historian, cookbook writer, cooking teacher, and founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, explores the lives and work of women cookbook authors whose important books have defined cooking over the past three hundred years. Beginning with the first published cookbook by Hannah Woolley in 1661, up to Alice Waters today, these women, and books, created the canon of the American table.

Focusing on the figures behind the recipes, Women in the Kitchen traces the development of American home cooking from the first, early colonial days to transformative cookbooks by Fannie Farmer, Irma Rombauer, Julia Child, Edna Lewis, and Marcella Hazan. Willan offers a short biography of each influential woman, including her background, and a description of the seminal books she authored. These women inspired one another, and in part owe their places in cooking history to those who came before them.

Featuring fifty original recipes, as well as updated versions Willan has tested and modernized for the contemporary kitchen, this engaging narrative seamlessly moves through history to help readers understand how female cookbook authors have shaped American cooking today.

When I first read about this book, I was fascinated with the idea. I’m so happy I decided to read it.
WOMEN IN THE KITCHEN is much more than just a cookbook. Author Anne Willan brings to light the history and recipes of 12 inspiring culinary creators. From Hannah Wooley 1622-1675  through to Sarah Rutledge 1782-1855 all the way to Alice Waters 1944-?, these women were instrumental in the world of cooking. Each chapter is dedicated to one of these amazing woman, covering a brief history on each one, and featuring some of their recipes.

In this, more than a cookbook book, you’ll find recipes like Savory Pumpkin and Apple Pie, Big and Baby Green Pea Soup, Corn Griddle Cakes, Potato Yeast Rolls, New England Lobster Salad, Blond Gingerbread, Crispy Fried Scallops, Corn Flake Drops (Cookies), Coq Au Vin Brown Sugar Caramel Pie, Polenta with Italian Sausages, and Mango Salad with Chile Pepper.

I very much enjoyed reading WOMEN IN THE KITCHEN. I took away from it so much more than bios and recipes. To me it’s a reminder that no matter how different we are, the one thing that connects us is not only the need for food, but the love of delicious food and the care and preparation that goes into it. Kudos to Anne Willan for this inspirational read.

Quick note. While you will find photos of the authors, there are no pictures of the food (if you have read my cookbook reviews, you know how I am about photos). But the lack of photos takes nothing away from WOMEN IN THE KITCHEN.

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  1. WOMEN IN THE KITCHEN sounds wonderful. Thanks for the heads up!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. This sounds really interesting, Lisa! Thankful Thursday, to you.