Henriette Schønberg Erkens Store kokebok (1914) is a monumental work of international scope, its collection of recipes ranging from brioche with goose liver to boiled mutton with cabbage. Up to 1951, twenty editions had been printed and more than 200, 000 copies had been sold.
Schønberg Erken was the national strategist who entered by the kitchen door, became the Norwegian Queen of Cookbooks and dominated the food philosophy during the first half of the 20th century.
Based on the recipes, Maria Reinertsen tells the story of her life, but also of social change and the hunt for the proper ingredients. Recipes are ideals, not accounts of what really happened. Erken’s autobiography demonstrates that women of her day had options in life other than the domestic science, college and house work that she herself prescribed in her books. It was possible to take on official roles, become a bestselling author and a celebrity cook.
Through the life and writings of Henriette Schønberg Erken, this biography comes close to the moral (and hypocrisy) not only of the subject’s time but also our own.
‘Reinertsen approaches this monument in Norwegian cooking literature not only from an economist’s point of view, but also from an essayist’s. A seemingly stately topic dealt with in an experimental, simple and insightful way.’
‘Henriette Schønberg Erken’s books, lectures and articles changed the lives of housewives, and perhaps all of society... Everything from egg consumption statistics for Oslo families to glossy reproductions of the first colour pictures in Erken’s legendary cookbook are to be found throughout.’
‘Economist and journalist Maria Berg Reinertsen reviews the life and cookbooks of great Norwegian chef writer Henriette Schønberg Erken, and shows how food is politics, how housework is ideology... This is one of autumn’s most interesting non-fiction releases because it has the potential to give the reader new insight into eyeryday life, and because it undermines established truths.’
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