Capri Cafaro '97
As befits an American Studies alum, the Honorable Capri S. Cafaro has had quite the peripatetic experience since graduating in 1997, her career spanning everything from politics and non-profits to podcasts and pasta e fagioli. Cafaro, who served as an Ohio State Senator from 2007 until term limits brought her time in office to a close in 2016 (and who was Minority Leader during her tenure there) recently turned her focus, as she wrote us, to “a passion that I trace back to my time in the Am Stud program: American culinary history, foodways and folklore.”
In July 2020, Cafaro published United We Eat, a cookbook that takes us not only across the country, with dishes from every state, but also across the aisle, with recipes coming from political leaders of different parties—everything from New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez's "Working Woman's Posole" to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's "Hoosier Pie." Cafaro tells us that her objective with the book was “to show food as a tool to bring people together, regardless of political affiliation or ideology as well as a way to tell our nation’s story in a different way.” Portions of cookbook's proceeds go to @feedingamerica.
Cafaro’s belief in the power of food as storytelling resonates as well in the podcast series she also launched in 2020: Eat Your Heartland Out. Featuring interviews with historians and authors as well as chefs, the podcast explores the rich cultural diversity represented in Midwestern foodways, with episodes focusing on Middle Eastern, Asian, Jewish, Indigenous, Amish, African American, Greek and Italian, Scandinavian, and other communities and influences.
Meanwhile, Cafaro also teaches at American University's School of Public Affairs and is a frequent political commentator on cable news.