Eat It edited by Nicole Baute and Brianna Goldberg


Eat It: Sex, Food and Women’s Writing edited by Nicole Baute and Brianna Goldberg | Published in 2013 by Feathertale | Source: Review copy from editor

My rating: 4/5 stars


What’s the best way to poison one’s husband? What happens when the body itself becomes a source of food? Can a potato be political? EAT IT ’s contributors explore these questions and more with equal parts humour and gravitas, revealing that for many women food is about love but also power, biology, social obligation, experimentation, nourishment, pain and pleasure.

My husband says that my sister and I are obsessed with food. It’s true that any time we’re together, the conversation tends toward it, but, isn’t it normal, almost necessary, to talk about something you do three, (okay, seven,) times a day? I suppose it’s true that a vegan (her, not me) always has more to consider and plan. But are we really that weird for talking about recipes and restaurants and our mutual crush on Chef at Home?

Eat It made me feel a little more normal. Here’s a whole bunch of people just talking about food, and writing poems about food, and imagining menus and remembering childhood meals. Of course, it’s not only about food. As the subtitle suggests, there’s more at play, and for women there are usually extra helpings (sorry) of guilt and shame on the one hand, and love and acceptance on the other.

Let’s address the all-women thing: this book isn’t *for* women. Anyone who enjoys a good short story or poem or creative non-fiction will get something out  of this. But I love that this book is written, edited, and published by women. I’m paraphrasing @snpsnpsnp (again!) when I say that feminism isn’t making stuff for women, it’s women making stuff, and so this right here is feminism in action!

The stories are grouped into sections that correspond to life stages. This made me wonder: what is it about relationship status and food? The ice cream for the single and broken hearted, the home cooked meal for the domesticated, pickles for the pregnant? Why are these images so enduring in our culture? I don’t have an answer after reading this book, but I do have a whole bunch of perspectives on food and life from some awesome writers.

Now, the stories: I have a few favourites to tell you about, but the whole collection is quite strong. There aren’t many big names; former Giller short lister Sarah Selecky is probably the biggest. The variety of forms and tones and voices is quite impressive for such a slim book. It really would have made a perfect stocking stuffer for my food-obsessed sister; I just wasn’t done reading yet.

  • “Pot Luck of Nutritional Tips” by Sara Hennesy. You may have seen Sara on Video on Trial, which I shame-watched regularly back before I had to worry about my kids repeating everything they hear. Her monologue had me laughing and nodding (“Slather my lady junk in yogurt for all the right reasons? Done and done.”) and it’s a pretty good commentary on the ridiculousness of media messages about women and food.
  • “A Lady’s Gotta Eat” is the story of one woman’s quest for the perfect hamburger and also maybe an orgasm? I don’t know, I was reading all sorts of stuff into this one.
  • “Left Over” by editor Nicole Baute is a very short piece about loss and remembrance and it made me cry.
  • “Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows” by Katie Daubs, for the title, and the first line, “Girls started dressing like sluts for Halloween in 1997,” because that was the first year I did it, too.
  • Stories about breastfeeding! There are two, one poignant and one hilarious. This is very relevant for me as my two year old nursling shows no signs of stopping, and even I, pro-breastfeeding, quasi-attachment parent, am questioning whether it’s time to shut it down. The whole “if he can ask for it, he’s too old” thing is clearly baloney, but where’s the pithy saying for a 35 pound toddler who motorboats you and screams “I need it,” because this was not covered in What To Expect. Uh, your mileage may vary on this one.

A note on how to find this book: it’s a little tricky, as it’s likely to be stocked with literary journals, but I’m told the easiest way to is to order online here. I would lend you mine, but it’s going to my sister next.

(Psst, Cait: I made Isa Chandra’s vegan chocolate cookies last night and they were amazing. It’s the molasses, I think. We ate them all, sorry.)

Thank you to the editors for providing a review copy of this book!



  1. Naomi

    I like “feminism isn’t making stuff for women, it’s women making stuff”. And I love food! This book sounds pretty good to me.
    I find that reading what other people have to say about breastfeeding can be fascinating- everyone has an opinion! For me, it’s simple- what could be more natural? Eventually getting them completely weaned, though, is easier said than done. It doesn’t always just ‘happen’, like you think it should.

    • lauratfrey

      Yes, it’s such an emotionally charged topic… yeah, I can see it’s not going to be that easy with this kid. My first just stopped one day around 18 months; he was done.

      • Naomi

        My first did that too, around 13 months. But my second and third were much harder. #3 was 3 years. But I didn’t mind too much, because I knew she was probably my last. Then, when it’s over, you wonder why you spent so much time worrying about it.

  2. Kristilyn

    I love Michael Smith!!!!! He’s one of my favourite chefs! Though, the other day hubs and I were flipping through the channels and some guy was on The Social who looked just like him. I was like, “Can’t be him! That’s the ugliest shirt ever.” Turns out, it was him. Obviously chefs don’t have stylists.

    Oh my gosh, your breastfeeding comment almost had me spitting out my coffee! I’ve always told myself that I’ll breastfeed for a year, so long as I can go that long. I love the one on one time with my little guy, even when he’s up hour after hour (it seems) in the night. But I think once he starts walking and eating other foods, we may shut it down. Mommy would like a beer that isn’t timed with a feeding, thankyouverymuch.

    Great review!

    • lauratfrey

      Hah thought you might like that. The good thing about toddler breastfeeding is they don’t need it all the time, or even everyday, so you can definitely fit in a beer. And once they’re sleeping through the night, you can do whatever after bedtime. I’m just too scared of a hangover + 2 kids to go really crazy 🙂

      • Kristilyn

        Oh I can’t wait for sleeping through the night … I’ll even take one feeding in the night!

        I always hated hangovers even before children … I hate feeling like I’d be wasting a day!

  3. Carolyn O

    Great review! I gave myself 3 months for breastfeeding, figuring I’d stop if I hated it. I didn’t mind it though, so I kept going, figuring I’d wean H around 2 or so. But a few weeks before his birthday I got very sick and was in the hospital for 10 days, so that was the end. I still wish I’d known that Saturday morning that it would be the last time he nursed. 😦

    • lauratfrey

      Oh that’s sad! I also didn’t realize it was the end with my older boy, because one day he just flat out didn’t want it any more. I still think about that too. If I end up having a absolute “last feeding” with Henry (because it will be last ever, we are done having kids) I will make sure to take a selfie or something 🙂

      • Carolyn O

        That’s a good idea 🙂 If I had known I would have written our H (our one, only, first and last) a little note to embarrass him or make him cry (never can tell with kids) later in life.

  4. Caitlin

    I really liked your comment on feminism. In women studies, that was one of the first things that many of my profs made clear. Feminism is not about women’s rights. It is about including women’s perspective (I don’t know if I am making sense on that).

    I assume that we talk about food so much (and assume most people do) because it is one of the few things we all have in common (we have to eat) and has so much variety, politics, opinion.

    I think this might go on my ‘want to read’ list.

    PS – I am jealous of those vegan cookies!!!

  5. Brie @ Eat Books

    “35 pound toddler who motorboats…” – thanks for that visual! Hahaha!

    I think we, as an entire species are “obsessed” with food whether we think we are or not. It’s something that we all have in common, right? We all need food to survive, just some of us *think* about it more than others. This makes me think about the time I spent working in Palliative Care. When the end was in sight, families (especially the women), most often struggled the most with the patient not eating. We, as a society, when in doubt, like to feed people – (think: for new moms, new neighbours, holidays, adult-children, and especially when people are dying). Feeding/eating, it’s what we know. But when someone can no longer feed someone, I’ve seen how hard that is to accept for the families. The helplessness of it that really sets in.

    Anyway, great review! And now I want a glass of milk 😉

  6. Vine Vampire

    Thanks for posting, the topic is absolutely fascinating but I´me most intrigued by the breastfeeding part. I think this gets overlooked so often it runs the risk of becoming mystified or even a taboo theme.

  7. Pingback: A Selection of Great Blog Posts January 2014 | Consumed by Ink

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