As Marie Griffith and Barbara Savage have noted, students of lived religion
have 'challenged timeworn distinctions between public and private
realms'. This chapter focuses on a particular cookery text, one
specific copy of E. Smith's The Compleat Housewife. It suggests
that in elite households in Virginia, households like that of Elizabeth
Foote Washington, and, indeed, George and Martha Washington, seemingly
'secular' recipe books in fact carried religious meaning.
Laypeople's alimentary practices were shaped by the church; but
laypeople exercised significant authority over their domestic religious
performances, and in Anglican Virginia, that authority unsettled clerics.
Foote sisters' recipe book speaks to the labour arrangements that
underwrote religious practice in the households of elite Anglican
Virginians. In the context of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century
Virginia, such labour was carried out by enslaved men and women.