Caroline J. SmithDec 14, 2023
Season to Taste
Rewriting Kitchen Space in Contemporary Women's Food Memoirs
University of Mississippi Press, 2023
Between 2000 and 2010, many contemporary US-American women writers were returning to the private space of the kitchen, writing about their experiences in that space and then publishing their memoirs for the larger public to consume. Season to Taste: Rewriting Kitchen Space in Contemporary Women’s Food Memoirs (U Mississippi Press, 2023) explores women’s food memoirs with recipes in order to consider the ways in which these women are rewriting this kitchen space and renegotiating their relationships with food.
Caroline J. Smith begins the book with a historical overview of how the space of the kitchen, and the expectations of women associated with it, have shifted considerably since the 1960s. Better Homes and Gardens, as well as the discourse of the second-wave feminist movement, tended to depict the space as a place of imprisonment. The contemporary popular writers examined in Season to Taste, such as Ruth Reichl, Kim Sunée, Jocelyn Delk Adams, Julie Powell, and Molly Wizenberg, respond to this characterization by instead presenting the kitchen as a place of transformation. In their memoirs and recipes, these authors reinterpret their roles within the private sphere of the home as well as the public sphere of the world of publishing (whether print or digital publication). The authors examined here explode the divide of private/feminine and public/masculine in both content and form and complicate the genres of recipe writing, diary writing, and memoir. These women writers, through the act of preparing and consuming food, encourage readers to reconsider the changing gender politics of the kitchen.
Jeannette Cockroft is an associate professor of history and political science at Schreiner University.