Federalist Foods

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Sandy Oliver captures our country’s Federalist and Colonial food traditions in her book, Food in Colonial and Federal America.   She documents how American cooking practices changed very little from the early 1600’s to the mid-1700s.  The majority of Colonial settlers still cooked on an open fire with kettles and Dutch ovens, although the elite had more well-equipped kitchens.  Meals were heavy on meats, but it’s during this period that the outline of the meat, vegetable, and starch model started to develop in the American meal.  There was breakfast, the main meal at noon, and tea or a supper that consisted on leftovers from the main meal.  The Federalist and Colonial periods were also when the uniquely American style of fast cooking and fast eating started to take hold.   Chemical leavenings made cooking faster, which was particularly popular in kitchens that didn’t have servants.  Sandy explores how everyday food customs were interpreted by the colonists – from appetizers to desserts and even party foods, she provides a sampling of early American life through the history of food.

Sandy Oliver began working in food history in 1971 when she founded the fireplace cooking program at Mystic Seaport Museum.  Since then, she has researched historic food customs and practices – providing training programs for museums and acting as a consultant and speaker on the cultural history of food.  She is the editor and publisher of Food History News in Islesboro, Maine.

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