Creating a Common Table in Twentieth-Century Argentina

Doña Petrona, Women, and Food

By Rebekah E. Pite

344 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 24 halftones, 1 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-0690-3
    Published: April 2013
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-0691-0
    Published: April 2013

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Awards & distinctions

Best Latin America Cuisine Book, USA, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Southern Cone Studies Section Book Award in Social Sciences, Latin American Studies Association

Doña Petrona C. de Gandulfo (c. 1896-1992) reigned as Argentina's preeminent domestic and culinary expert from the 1930s through the 1980s. An enduring culinary icon thanks to her magazine columns, radio programs, and television shows, she was likely second only to Eva Perón in terms of the fame she enjoyed and the adulation she received. Her cookbook garnered tremendous popularity, becoming one of the three best-selling books in Argentina. Doña Petrona capitalized on and contributed to the growing appreciation for women's domestic roles as the Argentine economy expanded and fell into periodic crises. Drawing on a wide range of materials, including her own interviews with Doña Petrona's inner circle and with everyday women and men, Rebekah E. Pite provides a lively social history of twentieth-century Argentina, as exemplified through the fascinating story of Doña Petrona and the homemakers to whom she dedicated her career.

Pite's narrative illuminates the important role of food--its consumption, preparation, and production--in daily life, class formation, and national identity. By connecting issues of gender, domestic work, and economic development, Pite brings into focus the critical importance of women's roles as consumers, cooks, and community builders.

About the Author

Rebekah E. Pite is associate professor of history at Lafayette College.
For more information about Rebekah E. Pite, visit the Author Page.


"Pite has conducted spectacular research among primary, secondary, and oral sources to uncover the exceptional life of Doña Petrona over eight decades of Argentine history."--The Americas

“[A] lively biography. . . . Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.”--Choice

“Pite’s study of Doña Petrona’s successful career from the first edition of her cookbook in 1934 until the 1970s offers many new social insights for twentieth-century Argentina.”--American Historical Review

“Exemplif[ies] the contributions of food history to the wider discipline. . . . [A] splendid book.”--Global Food History

"A thoroughly groundbreaking work of startling scope and innovation. Pite offers lessons in historical method as well as enduring conclusions about the importance of food, consumption, and cooking in Argentine society."--Elizabeth Hutchison, University of New Mexico

"An engaging and significant piece of historical scholarship. In this highly readable social history, Pite tells the story of twentieth century Argentina from the standpoint of food, gender, and consumption. She makes a convincing case for the centrality of food to the history of Argentina, fills a very important gap in the historiography of Latin America, and sheds light on the role of women in Latin American mass media."--Christine Ehrick, University of Louisville

Multimedia & Links

Read: A feature on Pite's research for the book by Lafayette College. (01/06/2012)

Read: In a guest blog post, Pite discusses a favorite Argentinian holiday treat, Pan Dulce de Navidad, and how Doña Petrona helped teach her viewers how to make this challenging dish. Read "A Televised Cooking Segment as Historical Source: Dona Petrona’s Pan Dulce de Navidad."