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From Servitude to Respectability: The Elevation of Cooking in Turn-of-the-Century Argentina

Thursday, November 14, 2013
12:00 AM
1014 Tisch Hall

 Around the turn of the twentieth century, most Argentine women who cooked did so because they had to feed their families or serve others.  In contrast, well-off women tended to manage servants and tell them what to cook.  Nevertheless, by the late 1920s, “respectable” ladies in Buenos Aires flocked to live cooking shows sponsored by the British gas company, La Compañía Primitiva de Gas.  Petrona C. de Gandulfo, who had avoided the kitchen herself as a child, now seized the opportunity to lead these public cooking classes.  During the next six decades, she would establish herself as Argentina’s most important culinary celebrity and cookbook author.  In this talk, Rebekah Pite will trace the dramatic shift that Petrona C. de Gandulfo and many of her well-off female counterparts made from avoiding the kitchen to embracing it.  She will argue that the gendered modernization of the economy fueled a growing appreciation for men’s extra-domestic work and women’s cooking in 1920s Buenos Aires and beyond.

Rebekah E. Pite is an assistant professor of history at Lafayette College.  She earned her PhD in history and women’s studies at the University of Michigan in 2007.  Her research focuses on histories of gender, food, and labor in Latin America, and especially Argentina.  Pite’s first book, Creating a Common Table in Twentieth-Century Argentina: Doña Petrona, Women, and Food, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in April, 2013.  She has also published articles in the Hispanic American Historical Review, Revista de Estudios Sociales, Apuntes, Massachusetts Historical Review, and edited volumes.

Co-sponsored by the Department of History and funded in part by a Title VI grant from the Department of Education

Rebekah E. Pite, Lafayette College