Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Political Power Of A Cookbook

One hundred years ago women across the United States and the United Kingdom marched for their freedom and rights. Now, one hundred years later we are forced to do the same, thanks to the new administration down in Washington D.C. .We should take a page from those earlier feminists. They  turned to cooking to get their message across and wrote cookbooks that emphasized women's rights.

Many would think that would be counterproductive to their cause. After all, cooking, especially back then, tied a woman tightly to the kitchen. However many books  - and there were many - offered advice about what to do about pointed barbs and innuendos aimed at these heroes. Most of the male population,  starting as early as the 1880[s harassed these brave feminists, claiming they were " kitchen hating harridans who couldn't cook" and let their children starve when they were busy protesting.The message that these books conveyed was that "good cooking and sure voting went hand in hand.". Even famous women, such as Louisa May Alcott, contributed to it, albeit not a recipe but a wry description of the statute of, Minerva, goddess of wisdom. Her shield had a "Woman's Right " slogan on it  while her helmet sported a tiny  mortar and pestle - a sly nod to the compatibility of cooking and voting. Another famed write , and male feminist, Jack London, contributed two of his recipes, roasted duck and  celery stuffed with a mix of Roquefort cheese, butter and sherry.

What were the other recipes? They reflected the tastes of the times for sure. There is a recipe for terrapin or turtle soup that's somewhat brutal in  its' description.The creature was boiled until the feet could be easily pulled off. The recipe's contributor was the famous Anna Ella Carroll, a Maryland political writer who freed her slaves when Abraham Lincoln was elected. She also served as his adviser during the Civil War, scoring one of the first important positions for women in the White House. Cora Scott Pond, a militant  prohibitionist  and realtor gave her Irish stew recipe. She was also famous for nixing wearing a corset at the age of sixteen.Chicago gynecologist and obstetrician, Alice Bunker Stockham, the fifth woman to become a licensed doctor in the United States offered up her recipe for Coraline cake., a cake filled with boiled cream and infused with  strawberry or raspberry juice. A veal sausage recipe was contributed by Julia A. Kellogg ,a devout feminist and student of Henry James Senior, The two fell out  because , even though James was a universal feminist, but he said that women wouldn;t avail themselves to voting when it was granted. This incensed Kellog and the  two parted ways. There were also snarky recipes, outright jabs at the men who suppressed them.

We are just beginning the second Suffragette Movement. Can we use the power of our cooking and baking blogs to make a point? By all foods sweet and savory, yes. We can band together, providing  nourishment for the spirit and the body.

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