Chatter: June Cleaver’s gift to women, Jewish foodie’s naked calendar and why female food celebrities are always licking spoons

The ungrateful daughters of June Cleaver: After the death of Barbara Billingsly, the woman who portrayed the apron-clad June Cleaver on “Leave It To Beaver,” a blogger on Big Hollywood writes that the women’s lib movement arose from a “scorn and contempt” for the picture-perfect home life created by the June Cleavers of the post-Depression, post-war America:

So when the 1950s arrived, a home with a white picket fence where a mother could stay at home with the kids and be safe and dry and warm and reliably supported by a working husband was a gift from heaven. This was a gift that mothers of the 1950s wanted to give to their daughters. They had suffered through starvation, homelessness and slaughter, and they had won, and they wanted to give their daughters the gift of the fruits of that victory….Unfortunately, their daughters didn’t want those gifts.

Open wide: Have you ever noticed how female food personalities are almost always putting something in their mouth when photographed? Serious Eats has a nice post up about how women and men are photographed differently in food shots. With the exception of Martha Stewart, it seems women food celebrities, even the ones we don’t think of as sex kittens, are almost always stuffing something in their faces (or licking sensually, in the case of the women who clearly use their bodies to promote their food careers like Giada de Laurentiis, Padma Lakshmi and Nigella Lawson). More often than not, these talented women are using sex not to sell a food product but to sell their personal brands. (Of note: If you do a Google image search of Rachael Ray, the photos of her posing for FHM magazine from 2003 far outnumber any other images of this media mogul. Would she do it again? In a heartbeat, she says.)

The old shoe line: Katharine Shilcutt, restaurant critic, food blogger and all-around bad ass for the Houston Press, wrote about an experience she had on a recent food panel where gender roles came up. It appears the panelists had a thoughtful discussion about why there aren’t more women in restaurant kitchens, but when the talk turned to the state of cooking at home, two panelists turned the clock back about 40 years: “Women would rather spend money on shoes than good food,” one remarked. Katharine shot back and took to her blog later to explain why that’s such a stupid remark.

Putting it all out there: Jamie Sneider has some matzo balls. In 2009, the actress/comedian spent her life savings to publish a calendar featuring photos of her nearly-nude self covered in just the right spots with traditional Jewish foods like kugels, latkes and bagels. She calls it a “celebration of the Jewish woman”: “I know Jewish food seems like the most unsexy food you can imagine. It’s all orange and brown,” she told Shalom Life. “I think it’s this big breasted Jewish woman I imagine cooking, baking. It’s the eroticness of the Jewish woman which I find very sexy and the foods are very, very loving.” (You can still buy the calendar online, even though it’s out of date.)

Sorry, Alice: Epicurious named the 15 most influential chefs of the past 15 years. Not a single woman made the list.

Chef Napoleon: Eater has a great Q&A with chef extraordinaire Sara Moulton. The pint-sized, pony-tailed powerhouse explains why she got the boot from the Food Network after having filmed 15,000 episodes for them, why she’s a fan of the Beastie Boys and Run DMC (who woulda guessed, right?) and whether or not things have changed for female chefs since she founded the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance almost 30 years ago.

Fried rice revelation: Readers of the Feminist Kitchen would probably all agree that cooking is an empowering task, but the blogger behind Phoenix Dry Heat is just now tapping into the food-as-power idea. “Sucking at cooking was just proof that I was a good feminist,” that is, until she had a revelation over fried rice.

3 responses to “Chatter: June Cleaver’s gift to women, Jewish foodie’s naked calendar and why female food celebrities are always licking spoons

  1. What?! They clearly have not seen my Amex bills! (I charge my groceries for better tracking.) At a rough estimate for the past year, I have spent 20-30X on groceries what I have on shoes (for 2 people).

    I love Sarah Moulton and her story. Thanks for posting the link. Food Network has mostly lost our household because of all the ‘competition’ bs. Our only old school favorite is Alton Brown and the new one is Anne Burrell.

  2. I love Sara Moulton. I think when Food Network got rid of her and then found that douchebag Guy Fieri from that reality show, they were done. I stopped watching them years ago.

  3. I skip over the Food Network, too, Michelle. It is just awful. Except for Iron Chef, I find almost all their programming terribly sexist. I agree, Susan, that Alton Brown and Anne Burrell are highlights, and I like Iron Chef. But there are almost zero Food Network shows where food-positive women chefs are preparing meals for the pleasure of cooking and eating, and not to look sexy or provide for a man in the house.

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