Status: Available

What’s for Dinner?

How food writers and TV shows broadened and changed how we eat and cook today

Spring 2024
Tuesday Morning
Moderator: Linda Honan



The purpose of this seminar is to explain how the food we buy, cook, and eat today has changed drastically since we were young, when most of us ate what our parents cooked in their traditional ways.


During the rationing and austerity of World War II, inspirational food writer M.F.K. Fisher published How to Cook a Wolf, in which she argued that even limited rations could become excellent eating. Once food became freely available again in the 1950s and 1960s, more books and TV shows followed. The first TV show on food was James Beard’s 15-minute I Love to Eat. Julia Child’s monumental book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, came out in 1961, followed in 1963 by Julia’s TV show The French Chef, which taught us how to prepare classical French dishes. The TV viewing audience for these shows were not only women, because men were interested too. In 1966 Joyce Chen Cooks expanded the TV range to include Chinese dishes. In 1993 the Food Network started, featuring food and cooking 24/7. Food writers since then have included Christopher Kimball, Anthony Bourdain, and chefs Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri.

ROLE OF PARTICIPANTS: Each participant will choose a writer or TV or radio presenter on food to feature in a presentation. We will meet in person once for lunch at the seminar’s end, when we will each bring in a dish from our presentation and share it with everyone.

M.F.K.Fisher, The Art of Eating

ABOUT THE MODERATOR: Linda Honan was a museum educator before becoming a Program Coordinator for UMass. She is happily retired in the Pioneer Valley.