Coffee Made Cuckolds and Eunuchs: Interaction with an Ottoman Drink in Seventeenth-century English Society

By Mary Pierce.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 22, 2016 $US5.00

The main aim of this paper is to illuminate the interconnections between the controversy swirling around the emergence of coffee and coffeehouses in seventeenth-century England and social and cultural anxieties and paradoxes in English society at that time. The project demonstrates that pervasive concerns surrounding the tenuous state of patriarchal manhood, and the ambiguous dispositions of the English people toward the Turks collectively helped to both encourage and discourage interactions with the exotic novelty from the Islamic world. Aspiring cosmopolitans embraced the occasion and enthusiastically intermingled with the new cultural practice already known to their Turkish, Arab, and Persian counterparts since the early sixteenth century. By contrast, coffee’s critics abhorred the Islamic-imported coffee drinking habit and did not hesitate to condemn coffee enthusiasts’ cosmopolitanism. They proclaimed the fervor for coffee and coffeehouses as a sign of degeneration, threatening not just Englishmen’s Englishness, but also their manliness.

Keywords: Coffee, Coffeehouse, Manhood, Cuckoldry, Turks, Effeminate, Eunuch

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 6, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.53-65. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 22, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 513.744KB)).

Mary Pierce

PhD Candidate and Instructor, History, Social and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA