Women's Kitchen Honor Roll
Not until the middle of Saturday afternoon did it occur to me that it was International Women's Day.
I kinda kicked myself for being remiss but quickly realized it's never too late to pay tribute to and honor the women who have made the world more delicious.
A complete list of the women who have made a mark as chefs, cookbook writers, food journalists, television personalities, restaurateurs, winemakers, farmers, cooking teachers, historians, scientists, cheesemakers, patissiers and chocolatiers would go on for days.
And that's not even counting all the home cooks, the abuelas, nonnas and grannies, who, with all kinds of tricks up their sleeves, would fry chicken and bake cookies, teach you not to talk with your mouth full, let you lick the batter and teach you, when you were good and ready, the recipes that preceded both of you, from another time and faraway place. They transported seeds from their homelands and planted them in new soil, continuing a legacy of nurturing, from farm to table.
Below, my list, but by no means comprehensive. These are just some of the women whose culinary accomplishments and bravery in the face of discrimination, harassment and work-life juggling has had a profound impact on my life and my career in food. I am forever grateful for their passion, their wisdom, their courage and their willingness to share lessons learned along the way.
....Julia Child (1912-2004), for having the chutzpah back in the 1950s not only to take on French cuisine but to teach the world, through her books, her history-making television series and her unforgettable voice.
...Ann Cooper, who wrote "A Women's Place is in the Kitchen," an important history book about women chefs and food writers. Cooper is making important history herself these days, as a champion of nutritious school meals (Check out her "Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children.")
...Elizabeth David (1913-1992) and ... M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992), pioneering food writers, who shared their passion for the kitchen in spite of World War II-imposed rations and hardships, who wrote with gusto and whose prose always makes me hungry.
...Fannie Merritt Farmer (1857-1915), a real firebrand, who ran cooking schools at the turn of the 20th century and who penned the famous "Boston Cooking-School Cookbook," which was resurrected in 1996 as the "Fannie Farmer Cookbook" by the inimitable Marion Cunningham, a culinary grand dame in her own right.
...Sheilagh Karl, a home cook who lived across the street from my childhood home in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Mrs. Karl cooked from the books of James Beard, Maida Heatter and Julia Child, when frozen food was still considered de rigeur. I found her passion intoxicating. I'd slip out of the house and go watch her cook, totally mesmerized, as opera blared from the kitchen radio. She was truly my first cooking inspiration.
....Edna Lewis (1917-2006), the grande dame of southern cooking, who made history in 1948 as the first African-American woman chef at Cafe Nicholson in New York. Miss Lewis's accomplishments are too many to list here. Get your hands on "The Gift of Southern Cooking" the book she co-authored with Scott Peacock, if you haven't already. I am grateful to have made her acquaintance in the late 1990s, when I had no idea what a force she was.
.....Deborah Madison for bringing vegetarian food into the American dining consciousness with her Greens restaurant in the 1970s and to Frances Moore Lappe, who wrote the ground-breaking "Diet for a Small Planet" in 1971 and who continues to work against the man-made cycle of world hunger.
...Frances Roth and Katherine Angell, who founded the Culinary Institute of America in 1946...
... Amelia Simmons, for being the first American to write a cookbook for Americans : her 1796, "American Cookery"
...Alice Waters, who opened Chez Panisse in 1971 in Berkeley, Calif. and is responsible in many ways for changing the culinary consciousness of this country. Waters continues to write and is fervently passionate about local, sustainable agriculture and is the founder of the Edible Schoolyard, both in Oakland and in New Orleans.
Here in Washington, I will forever be grateful to chefs Ann Cashion, who gave me my first cooking job, Gillian Clark, my first cooking mentor, Kate Jansen, who encouraged me to apply to cooking school, Susan McCreight Lindeborg, who, although relocated to New Mexico, continues to be my culinary counsel, eternally asking the tough questions and Mary Richter (Zuki Moon), who gave me a chance right out of cooking school.
Is there a special lady in your life with magical culinary powers? Add to the list in the comments area below.
By Kim ODonnel |
March 10, 2008; 11:08 AM ET
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