A THOUSAND YEARS OVER A HOT STOVE: A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances

Laura Schenone, Author . Norton $35 (416p) ISBN 978-0-393-01671-0

As the title implies, in her first book, freelance writer Schenone has attempted to cover more than a millennium in women's history, tossing in historically interesting recipes along the way. The results of this ambitious project, however, can't help but be broad, and the book is full of sweeping statements such as, "As cooks, Native American women lay the first claim to some of the greatest ingredients in the history of the world." A turgid introduction reaches even further back than 1,000 years to conjure a figure Schenone names "All Woman," whom she imagines as the first female on earth and imbues with all kinds of knowledge and curiosity. Later chapters are more fact-based and reliable. Indeed, when Schenone delves into the specific, her writing immediately improves. For example, a section in a chapter on the 19th century that details the development of urban peddlers and more specifically "hot corn women," is rich with description, evocative and offers information that is probably new to most readers. The author also does a commendable job of drawing the often-ignored connections among politics, women and food when describing events such as the 1917 food riots in New York City and lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s. The book is chockablock with recipes (often for oddities such as Apple Crisp Pronto from 1943, a concoction of packaged bread, margarine, honey and apples meant to help Rosie the Riveter get dinner on the table), period illustrations and sidebars, including one on Sara Josepha Hale, who standardized the Thanksgiving holiday. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-393-32627-7
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