Brown Bag Political Appetites: Revolution, Taste, and Culinary Activism in the Early Republic 7 March 2012.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Nancy Siegel, Towson University

In the eighteenth century, the American colonies were variously referred to as a crumbling cake or even a kettle of fish. As the language of food was easily understood, the use of such similes linking food to politics became increasingly popular, revealing the discourse between culinary history and American political thought. This program examines the development of culinary activism in America to include tea boycotts in the 1760s and the use of homebrews such as Liberty Tea; the development and naming of nationalist recipes in praise of the new and fragile nation such as Independence Cake, Federal Pan Cakes, and Election Cake in American cookery books after the Revolution; and the serving of patriotic cakes and teas on imported and domestically produced ceramics. The pots, plates, and platters that held tea and morsels became a meaningful complement: visual partners adorned with patriotic and nationalistic imagery such as American eagles, political figures, or popular American scenery. Seeing this ensemble of artifacts as culinary activism, one finds that through cookery, broad segments of American society could demonstrate their approval of the democratic process, and the very act of dining often conveyed opinions about the American political system.