The Feminist Kitchen: Turning the Tables

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The paradoxes, problems and pleasures of cooking as a feminist.

This event takes place at the British Library.

Part of the British Library Food Season Super Sunday. Day pass and single session tickets available.

1970s feminists were the first generation to question women’s responsibility for cooking, feeding and running the home but in 1987 one of the UK’s most innovative and radical feminist publishers a released cookbook, Turning the Tables: Recipes and Reflections from Women. Practical, intimate, moving and funny, Turning the Tables gathered together personal reflections and recipes from women - including the likes of Julie Christie and Miriam Margolyes - who pioneered and articulated the feminist landscape of the 70s and 80s. Join the book's original editor Sue O' Sullivan and contributors Rosamund Grant and Shaila Shah as they reflect on the myths, realities and politics of the feminist kitchen with Chair, food writer and critic Rebecca May Johnson.  

This event is part of the British Library Food Season 2023

Rebecca May Johnson is a writer. Her first book Small Fires, an Epic in the Kitchen was published in 2022 by Pushkin Press and is described by The Sunday Times as, “A manifesto for reclaiming cooking as an intellectual”. Johnson has published essays, reviews and nonfiction with Granta, Times Literary Supplement, Daunt Books Publishing, among others. She was a creative writing fellow at the British School at Rome in 2021 and has a PhD in Contemporary German Literature from UCL. 

Sue O’Sullivan is originally from the USA and moved to London in the 1960s. A leading and committed feminist, she ran a local London consciousness raising group, had children, taught women’s health in Holloway Prison, joined the Red Rag collective, got hired by Spare Rib magazine, stopped being married, became a lesbian, and moved on to Sheba Feminist Press in the mid 80s. Across her varied career she has published numerous books and articles and remained committed to intellectual endeavours and social justice. Sue was the editor of Turning the Tables - Recipes and Reflections from Women and added her recipes for Grated Courgettes, Courgette Soup and Crab and Breadcrumbs to the book.

Rosamund Grant is a published cookery writer, Caribbean food expert and psychotherapist who contributed a recipe for potlicker to Turning the Tables.  She has authored several books on Caribbean, Latin & South American and African cooking – Caribbean and African Cookery (forward by Maya Angelou) Taste of Africa (1999) and Taste of the Caribbean (2001); featured in BBC TV ‘Hot Chefs’ series and cookery book. In the early 80s she invited three other Black women to form a ‘co-operative’ to run a restaurant – Bambaya - in Crouch End, North London. She also worked as a psychotherapist at the Women’s Therapy Centre, offering low-cost psychotherapy to Black and ethnic minority women. In 2001, Rosamund’s oral history was recorded as part of the National Life Stories Collection, ‘Food: From Source to Salespoint’. 

Shaila Shah is a feminist and founder member of Outwrite Women's Newspaper, a feminist monthly from the 1980s. She has written several articles over the years on a number of topics concerning women, but only one recipe, prawn pilao, which was published in Turning the Tables! She has also edited and contributed to some books, and for 25 years was the publisher for the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), where she published a variety of books for social workers, adoptive and foster parents, and adopted and fostered children, and wrote some guides for children. She now works as a freelance editor.

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Name: The Feminist Kitchen: Turning the Tables
Where: Piazza
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: From £5 – £10
Concessions available
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
Book now

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