Dining with the Madisons: Elite Consumption at Montpelier

Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, Derek T. Anderson, Matthew Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recent research at James Madison’s Montpelier permits exploration of shifts in cuisine practices relating to the emergence of American cultural sensibilities, as well as in response to the greater international visibility and increased social and economic status of the household following Madison’s term as United States president. Prior to the presidency, zooarchaeological remains indicate that the household consumed high-quality cuts of meat from domesticated livestock, but that wild game also contributed significantly to the diet. After the presidency, costly meat cuts continued to be served on a well-appointed Madison table, but the overall diversity of the meat-based portion of the diet was reduced. The household increasingly focused its dietary strategy on a few locally produced, high-quality meats, likely in order to efficiently feed the many guests that visited Montpelier. Although English and French elite influences on cuisine are visible in the written record and material culture from Montpelier, the zooarchaeological evidence reflects the emergence of a distinctly American cuisine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-396
Number of pages25
JournalHistorical Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • 19th century
  • Virginia
  • zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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