What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food that Tells Their Stories

By Laura Shapiro


Laura Shapiro, author, culinary historian and CHNY member, has written a collection of six biographical essays that explore women’s lives by looking first and foremost at the food on the plate. Some of these women cooked, some of them didn’t, some barely even noticed the meal they were consuming; but each one had a powerful relationship with food—because we all do. Each was famous in her time, and most are still famous in ours, but until now, nobody has told their lives from the point of view of the kitchen and the table. What She Ate presents a lively and unpredictable array of women. They include Dorothy Wordsworth, whose food story transforms our picture of the life she shared with her famous poet brother; Rosa Lewis, the Edwardian-era Cockney caterer who cooked her way up the social ladder; Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and rigorous protector of the worst cook in White House history; Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress, who challenges our warm associations of food, family, and table; Barbara Pym, whose witty books upend a host of stereotypes about postwar British cuisine; and Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan, whose commitment to “having it all” meant having almost nothing on the plate except a supersized portion of diet gelatin.

Purchase Book