Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century

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Columbia University Press, 2002 - History - 288 pages
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Sugar, pork, beer, corn, cider, scrapple, and hoppin' John all became staples in the diet of colonial America. The ways Americans cultivated and prepared food and the values they attributed to it played an important role in shaping the identity of the newborn nation. In A Revolution in Eating, James E. McWilliams presents a colorful and spirited tour of culinary attitudes, tastes, and techniques throughout colonial America.

Confronted by strange new animals, plants, and landscapes, settlers in the colonies and West Indies found new ways to produce food. Integrating their British and European tastes with the demands and bounty of the rugged American environment, early Americans developed a range of regional cuisines. From the kitchen tables of typical Puritan families to Iroquois longhouses in the backcountry and slave kitchens on southern plantations, McWilliams portrays the grand variety and inventiveness that characterized colonial cuisine. As colonial America grew, so did its palate, as interactions among European settlers, Native Americans, and African slaves created new dishes and attitudes about food. McWilliams considers how Indian corn, once thought by the colonists as "fit for swine," became a fixture in the colonial diet. He also examines the ways in which African slaves influenced West Indian and American southern cuisine.

While a mania for all things British was a unifying feature of eighteenth-century cuisine, the colonies discovered a national beverage in domestically brewed beer, which came to symbolize solidarity and loyalty to the patriotic cause in the Revolutionary era. The beer and alcohol industry also instigated unprecedented trade among the colonies and further integrated colonial habits and tastes. Victory in the American Revolution initiated a "culinary declaration of independence," prompting the antimonarchical habits of simplicity, frugality, and frontier ruggedness to define American cuisine. McWilliams demonstrates that this was a shift not so much in new ingredients or cooking methods, as in the way Americans imbued food and cuisine with values that continue to shape American attitudes to this day.

  

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Contents

Language and the Sacred
1
A CHRONIC
9
Blasphemy and the CounterReformation
23
Gods Holy Church Against Blasphemy
39
POWERS OF STATE
49
Municipalities the Bourgeois
69
BLASPHEMYS SOCIAL MILIEUS
81
The Other Reality
96
BLASPHEMY
119
Magistrate Theologian and the Ways of Justice
132
BLASPHEMY ON TRIAL
151
Speech and Expiation
163
MEANINGS OF A WORD
181
Blasphemys Comeback
201
Bibliography
265
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Robert Kandel is a senior scientist of the C.N.R.S. (National Scientific Research Agency of France). He is a member of NASA's Earth Radiation Science Team and chief scientist for the French-Russian-German ScaRaB radiation mission and is currently working on a joint European-Japanese satellite project to observe clouds, aerosols, and radiation. He is the author of several books, including Earth and Cosmos and Our Changing Climate. He was born in Brooklyn and now lives in Paris, France.

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