Reflections on Rum, Spirit of the Cane
Richard Foss speaking on “Reflections on Rum, Spirit of the Cane”
What most people know about rum is wrong: it wasn’t invented where or when popular histories claim, and the most famous sea chantey about it was invented by a 19th century author who never set foot on a ship. The truth is more interesting: rum helped spark the American Revolution, was used as currency in Australia, entered 19th Century medical cabinets as a health elixir, and is still a sacramental offering among voodoo worshippers. Rum made long sea voyages bearable in the 1850’s and tikis fashionable in the 1950’s, and it once fueled the economy of half the world. George Washington savored it in punch, Queen Victoria sipped it in navy grog, and King Kamehameha drank it straight. Rum’s evolution from a raw spirit concocted for slaves to a beverage for connoisseurs is a fascinating story, and this lecture will introduce the secret history of a beverage that has been reviled by temperance groups and celebrated by connoisseurs around the globe.
Richard Foss has been writing about food and drink professionally since 1986, when he started reviewing restaurants for the Los Angeles Reader newspaper. Since then he has written for over twenty different publications, including contributing articles to the Encyclopedia of World Food Cultures (Greenwood 2011). He teaches classes entitled “500 Years of American Food,” “American Fermented,” and “What Shakespeare Left Out” at Osher Institute/UCLA Extension, and has written a book on the history of rum that was released by Reaktion Books in April of 2012.
Mark Taper Auditorium, Downtown Central Library, 630 W. 5th St.
Free and open to the public
A reception with themed refreshments will follow the talk at