Cover image for Dinner roles : American women and culinary culture
Dinner roles : American women and culinary culture
Inness, Sherrie A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
x, 225 pages ; 23 cm
1. "Bachelor bait" : men's cookbooks and the male cooking mystique -- 2. "The enchantment of mixing-spoons : cooking lessons for girls and boys -- 3. Paradise pudding, peach fluff, and prune perfection : dainty dishes and the construction of femininity -- 4. Waffle irons and banana mashers : selling Mrs. Consumer on electric kitchen gadgets -- 5. "Fearsome dishes" : international cooking and orientalism between the wars -- 6. "It's fun being thrifty!" : gendered cooking lessons during the Depression -- 7. Wear this uniform proudly, Mrs. America!" : Rosie the Riveter in the kitchen -- 8. Of casseroles and canned foods : building the happy housewife in the fifties.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX715 .I545 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Who cooks dinner in American homes? It's no surprise that Mom remains the overwhelming answer. Cooking and all it entails, from grocery shopping to chopping vegetables to clearing the table, is to this day primarily a woman's responsibility. How this relationship between women and food developed through the twentieth century and why it has endured are the questions Sherrie Inness seeks to answer in "Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture."

By exploring a wide range of popular media from the first half of the twentieth century, including cookbooks, women's magazines, and advertisements, "Dinner Roles" sheds light on the network of sources that helped perpetuate the notion that cooking is women's work. Cookbooks and advertisements provided valuable information about the ideals that American society upheld. A woman who could prepare the perfect Jell-O mold, whip up a cake with her new electric mixer, and still maintain a spotless kitchen and a sunny disposition was the envy of other housewives across the nation.

Inness begins her exploration not with women but with men-those individuals often missing from the kitchen who were taught their own set of culinary values. She continues with the study of juvenile cookbooks, which provided children with their first cooking lessons. Chapters on the rise of electronic appliances, ethnic foods, and the 1950s housewife all add to our greater understanding of women's evolving roles in American culinary culture."

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Inness (English, Miami Univ.) examined women's roles by researching cookbooks, advertisements, and magazine articles. As in the fable of the blind men and the elephant, this author tested her thesis about gender roles using a single method. This yielded popular stereotypes but prevented unearthing deeper truths. For instance, she showed that women's home magazines aimed at middle-class women portrayed cooking as something women should do, whereas men's magazines portrayed it as something men seldom did. Though this may be interesting, it is not too startling. Analysis of magazines geared toward one gender would give similar results whether the topic were carpentry or quilting. The research should have included data on time worked outside the home and that spent in the kitchen and whether the time spent was considered dull or fulfilling. The introduction offers the author's personal experiences, which appear to be the basis for the book's hypothesis/bias. Some topics are only peripherally related to the subject. In her data gathering Inness failed to look at magazines devoted to cooking--not just women's magazines. Her book brings up some points to ponder, but fails to reach a depth expected of feminist scholarship. General readers; undergraduates through professionals. J. M. Jones College of St. Catherine