This week, I’m continuing to barrel through research on gin and dining habits of the 1700s. But my research on foods of this era led me to an interesting book that I started a couple of days ago, Eat My Words: Reading Women’s Lives through the Cookbooks they Wrote by Janet Theophano (Palgrave, 2002). It reminded me of another book I read on the subject a few years ago, A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone (W.W. Norton, 2004). Theophano’s book is more academic than Schenone’s book which was a lively read as well as educational. Both demonstrate that cookbooks are about much more than just food but as Theophano notes, “illustrate a woman’s social interactions” at the time. I’m personally fascinated by culinary history and cookbooks in general, and both of these titles show how eating and recipes shifted over the years, and how the women who wrote them changed as well. It also has a universal message — that becoming a proficient cook can lead to confidence in area outside the kitchen as well. Anyone who has read my second book will know why I highlighted this comment in Eat My Words: “Cookbooks make evident the self-esteem some women developed as their matured in their domestic roles…” while in the past some areas were difficult for women to participate in, domestic pursuits were one in which “women could compete and excel.”
I also started to read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee to study the pacing and the language of her work. She also had such a natural way with dialogue and character development. I find that reading a great book while trying to do a lot of writing myself inspires me to write even more. Does that make any sense?