Eat It: Sex, Food, and Women’s Writing, edited by Nicole Baute and Brianna Goldberg, 128 pages, Feathertale, www.feathertale.com. $15.00CAN.
Eat It: Sex, Food, and Women’s Writing opens with a disheartening note from the publisher: In today’s top journals and magazines, nearly three times as many male contributors are published as females. In an effort to address this unsettling gender imbalance, Feathertale has released Eat It, an anthology written, edited, and designed entirely by women featuring over 30 writers—most of whom are Canadian—in a playful collection of short stories, prose, poetry, and non-fiction essays. Think of this slim volume as a tasting menu of sorts, where the main ingredients are gender and culinary (mis)adventure, with some sass and humour thrown in for seasoning.
Highlights include Julia Kirkpatrick’s first time on an Albertan deer hunting expedition, Briana Goldberg’s determined quest for the perfect hamburger, Sarah Barmak’s treatise on the history of lady poisoners, Amy Jones’s guide to emotional eating in the digital age, and Maya Reid’s curious visit to a Beijing restaurant that serves dishes made of animal penises. For those hungry readers out there looking to satisfy a particular craving, a cheeky index catalogues all food-related references from almonds to whiskey, kale to Kraft Singles.
Diner beware, however: the inclusion of “sex” in the title is a bit of a misnomer. Those expecting mouthwateringly erotic tales (ahem—this reviewer included) will be disappointed to learn that only a few pieces make reference to more sensual oral fixations. Rather, these authors tease out and ruminate on larger themes of women eating too much or too little, food preparation as a symbol of womanly love and affection, and the ways in which specific areas of culinary prowess have traditionally been (and continue to be) gendered. While individually the short, bite-sized pieces in Eat It only whet one’s sensual appetite, overall the variety of styles and sensibilities contained in this set are more than enough to satiate. (Melissa Hergott)