Associate Professor Sheri Parks, American Studies, discusses 17th and 18th century taverns.

Q: Why 17 & 18th century Maryland tavern life event and why now?

Associate Professor Sheri Parks: We have been looking for ways to continue our ongoing engagement with the community, to find innovative ways to take our scholarship into the world.  Our chair, Nancy Struna, has been researching gender, race and power in historical taverns, so we thought this was a natural way to have an enjoyable evening of food, drink and talk.

Q: How did tavern life impact the Maryland we know today?

Parks: Taverns, which were called Ordinaries, were the center of town life.  They were built before the church or schools, because they were where the everyday business of the community was conducted.  It is not an overstatement to say that they were where participatory democracy took form.  They are particularly important to the history of women in this country because many of the first owners were women.

Q: What is food and drink like in the 17th and 18th centurys?

Parks: All of the food and drink will be local and historically based tavern fare.  The menu will include Stuffed  Ham, a St Mary's County delicacy that Eryn Ryan, one of our recently graduated students, traced back to the 17th century for her senior thesis; vegetarian Bubble and Squeak, a tavern food that makes noise while it cooks; oyster stew in sherry; rainbow trout on a bed of barley; a huge chicken pot pie; pumpkin gratin; Smith Island cake with homemade peanut ice cream. While we wanted the meal to be historic, we and chef Joseph Canlas sorted for recipes that would also be delicious.  We will have several beers, all recreated by Tom Flores, the beer master at Brewers Alley, in the colonial fashion, of oats or rye or other local ingredients.   Maryland had a thriving rye whiskey trade and they made beer out of the leftover crops.

Q: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Parks: Tom Flores, Erin Ryan and Dr. Nancy Struna will all give short presentations as we enjoy the food and drink they are discussing.  The evening will take place in the upstairs room at Brewers Alley, itself of historical significance.  The building was ransomed by the Confederate Army and the negotiation documents between the Confederate officers and the town mayor will be on display.