Gilbert wears her scholarship lightly in this warm, lively inquiry into the social, political, ethical and aesthetic...

THE CULINARY IMAGINATION

FROM MYTH TO MODERNITY

A literary scholar investigates the cultural meaning of food.

In this exuberant, wide-ranging look at what, how and why we eat, Gilbert (Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions, 2011, etc.) turns to poets and novelists, movies and art, food critics and celebrity chefs, memoirists and historians to consider the myriad and surprising ways that food reflects culture. She quotes Bill Buford in an epigraph that aptly sums up the book: “One of the great charismas of food is that it’s about culture and grandmothers and death and art and self-expression and family and society—and at the same time, it’s just dinner.” Anyone who has ever written about food is likely to be found in these pages, including Proust, Woolf, Hemingway, Plath, Sartre, Homer and Shakespeare. Gilbert also looks at Wallace Stevens’ “Emperor of Ice-Cream,” William Carlos Williams’ stolen plums, Gertrude Stein’s many culinary references in Tender Buttons, and the Romantic poets, whose works frequently featured “magical or exotic foods” that heightened a sense of the fantastic. Julia Child takes center stage when Gilbert considers the popularity of food shows and the transformation of mainstream American cuisine; she also examines the influence of food critics (Ruth Reichl and others) and food memoirists. The genre called “foodoirs,” writes Gilbert, “proliferate[s] like cookies and cupcakes…on bookstore shelves that used to be crammed with romance novels.” These include celebrants, such as M.F.K. Fisher, and food avoiders, such as anorexic and bulimic women. Gilbert reveals her own rich food legacy from her Italian and Russian grandparents, making her early food experiences far different from that of her Jell-o–eating classmates. Although her mother prepared lamb chops and instant mashed potatoes, the author recalls a Thanksgiving turkey stuffed with a Ligurian recipe of spinach, mushrooms, sausage, parmesan cheese and garlic.

Gilbert wears her scholarship lightly in this warm, lively inquiry into the social, political, ethical and aesthetic meanings of “food, glorious food!”

Pub Date: July 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-06765-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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