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Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses

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by Alex D. Ketchum
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There was an era, beginning in the early 1970s, when feminist and lesbian-feminist restaurants were invaluable places in the American political and cultural landscape. While they have almost entirely vanished as such, their impact enduresas this detailed and engaging history makes clear.

Alex Ketchum, lecturer on gender, sexuality, and feminist studies at McGill University, displays an impressive grasp of the range of establishments that arose to address a variety of needs, among them for a "physical space for socializing, activism, economics, and community building."

This is not a gauzy account of forgotten utopias. "Not every restaurant was successful at making good food," Ketchum notes. "Most feminist restaurants, cafes, and coffeehouses closed after only a few years of operation; however this does not mean that they were failures."

With attention both to the innovative business practices that founders used to overcome their lack of access to capital as well as to goals such as ethical sourcing of ingredients and equitable compensation of workers, Ketchum reveals how these restaurants anticipated forces that would still be at play in the hospitality industry fifty years later.

Throughout the book, the voices of the women who were creating these places, and eating and drinking in them, are included to lend weight to their importance. Ketchum writes perceptively and clearly as she tells their stories and highlights the changes they wrought.

The research and the insight here is impressive.

Paperback. Black-and-white photos throughout.

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