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BOOK REVIEW: “United We Eat: 50 Great American Dishes To Bring Us All Together” by Capri S. Cafaro

Jul 31, 2020
“United We Eat: 50 Great American Dishes To Bring Us All Together” by Capri S. Cafaro (Story Farm; $30.00/hardcover) features firsthand accounts from politicians about memorable meals they’ve shared with political rivals that set the table for compromise. In one such story, former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) recalls in 1981, while serving his first term as a U.S. Senator, meeting his Senate colleague Pat Moynihan, a fellow New Yorker. As a Democrat, Moynihan’s views naturally differed from D’Amato’s, and they initially treated each other with a wary, distant respect. That changed over a meal — or more accurately, over several meals. The two first came together for an introductory lunch at Moynihan’s favorite New York haunt, The Pierre Hotel. As lunch stretched into late afternoon, the senators found themselves reaching past their differences to form a bond that would blossom into a great personal friendship. The friendship was sealed when Moynihan joined D’Amato at his Senate office, where his mother’s famous lasagna was served. With each lunch came the renewed belief that breaking bread is the best way to find common ground. As D’Amato puts it, “We sure could use more of that in politics today. I’m sure Pat would agree, especially over a plate of lasagna and a nice Chianti!”

In the book, you will find a number of distinct recipes and stories representing all 50 states that were either adapted by the author or submitted by Democrats and Republicans who have all served our nation in some way. “United We Eat” is more than a cookbook. It is a tool to show that food is a nonpartisan way to bring Americans together and find common ground. Furthermore, each entry aims to illuminate the tastes, culture, and history of each state — and in the process, help tell at least part of the American story through food.

The easy-to-follow recipes in “United We Eat” are designed for home chefs and feature favorites from all 50 states like Rep. Don Young’s (R) Alaskan Halibut Bake, former Democratic National Committee Chair and Fox News Contributor Donna Brazile’s authentic Louisiana Gumbo, Pride of Maryland Crab Cakes from former TV journalist and Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) Camden Gooey Cake.

In addition to the United We Eat recipe contributors, Cafaro has adapted a selection of the featured dishes in the book to be symbolic of the state’s they represent, including Idaho’s Ice Cream “Baked Potato” with Candied Bacon, New Jersey’s Trenton Tomato Pie and Mississippi’s Grilled Gulf Shrimp Skewers with Comeback Sauce.

We are in a time rife with division. It is in times like these when it is most important to remember what can bring us together. Cafaro has always believed a good meal or a sweet treat can warm all of our hearts and remind us of the kindness and community spirit that makes us Americans.

* * * * *

Capri S. Cafaro is a Midwestern girl at heart. A native of Ohio, she served in state government for a decade where she focused her work on health care and the needs of the vulnerable. When she was not working on legislation in the statehouse, she was baking for family and friends at home. She often combined these facets of her life, making pies for her colleagues across the aisle as they worked together on important legislation, such as Ohio’s Medicaid reform law.

After term limits brought her time in the Ohio Senate to a close, Capri began teaching public policy at the university level. She brings her health policy expertise to academia as an Executive in Residence at American University in Washington DC. She also holds visiting fellowships at the London School of Economics and the University of Toronto.

Capri is a frequent political commentator on cable news outlets, such as Fox News, where she has regularly appeared on such shows as Outnumbered, Fox & Friends and The Five. She also frequently provides commentary for international networks such as BBC, Sky News, ITV (UK), CBC (Canada) and France 24.

With government in the rearview, Capri now has more time to spend on her culinary passions. Capri believes food is the common denominator that brings us all together and the ingredient that can tell our nation’s story without words. She has written about food, culture and travel for outlets such as FoodNetwork.com, TravelForFoodHub.com, FoxNews.com and often brings her baking skills to TV audiences across the country. Capri is the host of “Eat Your Heartland Out,” a forthcoming show on the Heritage Radio Network highlighting the foodways of the American Midwest.


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