She Dined on Black Pudding

‘The connection between food and biography feels firmest in the chapter on Eleanor Roosevelt, who presided over the most infamously bad meals in White House history. Roosevelt insisted on hiring a hardworking but completely inexperienced and ill-suited housewife from upstate New York, Henrietta Nesbitt, to run the West Wing kitchen, chiefly because she trusted the woman, but also because Nesbitt’s family was in bad straits. During the Depression and World War II, Nesbitt produced ostentatiously frugal dishes like chipped beef on toast, jellied bouillon salad, “Eggs Mexican” (rice topped with bananas and fried eggs), and something called “Shrimp Wiggle.”

Laura Miller reviews Laura Shapiro’s new book What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories,


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