by Laura Shapiro; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 280 pages; $16.95.
About a hundred years ago there erupted in America the same passion for food and its preparation that exists here today. It was then called the domestic science movement, and its aims couldn’t have been more different from those of today’s eager gourmets. The idea was to standardize food, to make it pure, scientific—and tasteless. Fannie Farmer (“the mother of level measurements”) and the Boston Cooking School led the way in “disdaining the proof of the palate.” In this witty and delightful book, Laura Shapiro explores the reform forces that, in the name of science and progress for women, introduced such items as gelatin-marshmallow salads into our national cuisine.