Religious women produced many of the foods that enriched the cuisines of Latin America. Iconic sweets, pastries, and even national dishes are thought to have been invented within the walls of Catholic convents, but our knowledge of the hands behind the food is sketchy. What did cooking really mean for the women who spent countless hours in the kitchen? How did cooking shape their spiritual experiences? How did kitchen labor affect their social stature within the convent? This presentation presents the stories of two women whose primary responsibilities were preparing food for their communities: Úrsula de Jesús, an Afro-Peruvian religious servant in 17th-century Lima, and Mariana de San José, a nun in 18th-century Puebla, Mexico. Through the words of Úrsula and Mariana, cooking emerges as a manual and spiritual practice that allowed women to challenge social constraints and gender expectations.
Daniela Gutiérrez Flores is a Ph.D. candidate in the Romance Languages and Literatures department at the University of Chicago. Her research examines the relations between literary and culinary cultures in the early modern Hispanic world by exploring the cook as a literary character and historical agent. She is the recipient of a 2020 Culinary Historians of New York Scholar’s Grant .
The program also includes our annual meeting and election of officers.
6:30: Sign in to Zoom for members only
6:40: Business Meeting and election of officers
6:50: Sign in to Zoom for the public
7:00 Presentation followed by general Q & A