We all likely conjure up a similar image of the women’s suffrage movement: picket signs, red carnations, militant marches through the streets. But was it only these rallies that gained women the exposure and power that led them to the vote? Ever courageous and creative, suffragists also carried their radical message into America’s homes wrapped in food wisdom, through cookbooks, which ingenuously packaged political strategy into already existent social communities. These cookbooks gave suffragists a chance to reach out to women on their own terms, in nonthreatening and accessible ways. Cooking together, feeding people, and using social situations to put people at ease were pioneering grassroots tactics that leveraged the domestic knowledge these women already had, feeding spoonfuls of suffrage to communities through unexpected and unassuming channels. Kumin, the author of The Hamilton Cookbook, expands this forgotten history, she shows us that, in spite of massive opposition, these women brilliantly wove charm and wit into their message. Filled with actual historic recipes (“mix the crust with tact and velvet gloves, using no sarcasm, especially with the upper crust”) that evoke the spirited flavor of feminism and food movements, All Stirred Up re-activates the taste of an era and carries us back through time. Kumin shows that these suffragettes were far from the militant, stern caricatures their detractors made them out to be. Long before they had the vote, women enfranchised themselves through the subversive and savvy power of the palate.
Laura Kumin is the author of The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World and runs the popular blog “Mother Would Know.” Kumin earned a law degree from Columbia Law School and practiced in Washington D.C. for more than two-decades. She lives in Washington D.C. where she now teaches cooking and food history.