Rebecca IngramDec 16, 2022
How Culinary Cultures Shaped Modern Spain
Vanderbilt University Press 2022
Sandie Holguín (Professor of History and Coeditor of the Journal of Women’s History, University of Oklahoma) speaks with Rebecca Ingram (Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Cultures, and Literatures, University of San Diego) about her book, Women’s Work: How Culinary Cultures Shaped Modern Spain (Vanderbilt University Press, 2022).
Today Spain is widely known for its culinary achievements, drawing tourists from around the world to sample delights from Michelin-starred restaurants. But in the early twentieth century, visitors to Spain complained unceasingly about the poor, primitive qualities of Spanish food and its preparation. To Spanish intellectuals, this denigrated place of Spanish food within the European pantheon of “civilized” cuisines seemed misplaced, and they set about to correct this mischaracterization. It is during this period of Spain’s great imperial losses and uneven economic modernization that Ingram enters to analyze the place of culinary writing in Spain’s modernization process. Ingram dives deeply into the culinary writings of Spanish feminists like Emilia Pardo Bazán and Carmen de Burgos, and the decidedly-not-feminist polymath physician, Gregorio Marañón’, and she examines the culinary training ground for working-class women at Barcelona’s Institut de Cultura i Biblioteca Popular de la Dona. Through her deep reading of culinary paratexts, she elucidates the numerous debates around women’s labor and domesticity and its relationship to Spanish modernity. Ingram reveals "how culinary writing engaged these debates and reached women at the site of much of their daily labor—the kitchen—and, in this way, shaped their thinking."