Creating a Common Table in Twentieth-Century Argentina: Doña Petrona, Women, and Food
Rebekah E Pite
2013, University of North Carolina Press
344 pages, paperback, plates
EVERY country has one, a domestic godess who becomes the essential point of reference for housewives and homemakers everywhere. From their kitchens in the sky, they steer the womefolk of the nation towards the best in culinary possibilities through magazine columns and radio and television programmes. In the case of Argentina, this was Doña Petrona C de Gandulfo (1896-1992) whose cookbooks garnered enormous populatrity in her homeland and fashioned the tastes and eating habits of generations of Argentinians. But as Rebekah Pite demonstrates, such figures and the role of food more generally also contributed in an important way to the parameters of gender and broader processes shaping daily life, class formation and national identity. Pite has put together a fascinating social history of twentieth-century Argentina that uses food as its lens. It would be fair to say that she serves up a tasty historical dish that leaves the reader wanting seconds.