If you could have a dinner party with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
That’s the question film critic and food writer Alissa Wilkinson answered as she gathered a hypothetical table of women who challenged norms and defied conventional wisdom.
Ella Baker, Alice B. Toklas, Hannah Arendt, Octavia Butler, Agnes Varda, Elizabeth David, Edna Lewis, Maya Angelou, Laurie Colwin: these smart, engaging, revolutionary, and creative twentieth-century women were all profoundly influenced by their own relationships to food, drink, and other elements of sustenance.
, Wilkinson explores the ways food managed to root these women into their various callings. For some, it was cultivating perseverance in the face of hardship. For others, it was nurturing a freedom to act, even in the face of opposition, toward justice and equality. For others, it was an examination of what it means to be human with all its desire, heartbreak, sacrifice, isolation, and liberty.
is Alissa Wilkinson’s invitation to you. Join these sharp, empowered, and often subversive women and discover how to live with courage, agency, grace, smarts, snark, saltiness, and sometimes feasting–even in uncertain times. Ultimately you will leave this table with a greater understanding of food, drink, gathering, thinking, loving, and navigating the world.
Alissa Wilkinson is a film, culture, and food writer. She is currently the senior culture reporter at Vox.com, as well an associate professor at The King’s College. She was a writing fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Art of Nonfiction initiative and has written for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Review of Books. Wilkinson is a frequent guest commentator on various media, including PBS Newshour, NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and On Point. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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