|Photo by Alfred T. Palmer, 1943, courtesy of the Library of Congress.|
Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook
(Katie Sherrod, editor, and Judy Alter, food editor. Fort Worth: TCU Press, 2010.)
The beauty of Grace and Gumption: The Cookbook is that it’s hard to tell when the stories stop and where the recipes begin.
Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook is a hearty follow-up to Grace & Gumption, Stories of Fort Worth Women. The text marries academic investigation with the familiar style of community cookbooks in a form that adds depth and eccentricity to the Fort Worth community. Using community foodways as a lens, Grace and Gumption offers a glimpse into women’s worlds as they navigated the shifting demands of their civic, public, domestic, and religious spheres. This compendium of recipes and stories sketches a portrait of a vibrant community of women. Actually, “vibrant community” is an understatement--what Grace and Gumption reveals is a community in which the women were—and, we might suppose, still are—the backbone.
The pages are inhabited by women from all walks of life: nuns, philanthropists, mothers, socialites, grandmothers, dancers, artists, wives, ranchers, politicians, among others. There are the women of the charitable institutions who coordinated picnics of iced watermelon, sandwiches and ice cream for hungry orphans; Lela McMath Rogers, mother of a young Ginger Rogers, who concocted inexpensive yet nutritious meals in hotels using only a hot plate, toaster and percolator; Tad Lucas, international rodeo star; Regina Stern Gernsbacher, organizer of community Passover seders that fed Jewish soldiers.
Interested in learning how to cook a squirrel? Hankering for a recipe for chili biscuits? Looking to be inspired by women challenging the status quo? This might just be your book. Whether food was a passion or a chore for the women of Fort Worth, it was a tangible expression of power—and the women in these pages were forces to be reckoned with.