Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thomas Jefferson's Favorites

In my quest for information about Thomas Jefferson's inaugural dinner,
I discovered a couple of factual errors in yesterday's blog 
about George Washington's first inaugural.
According to the Library of Congress, 
Washington was sworn in in New York, not Washington DC. 
Not only that, there was indeed a little celebrating 
as Washington made his way to New York.
And the night of the inauguration, there were fireworks.
Unfortunately, still no sources were found that described the inaugural meal.
But onward to Jefferson, the third U.S. president.

Thomas Jefferson image,

Thomas Jefferson is the second of the eight presidents from Virginia,
and he was the first inaugurated in Washington DC.
 I couldn't find any references to his inaugural dinner
beyond the fact that he returned to his boarding house and seated himself
in his usual spot furthest from the fire 
rather than take a place of honor at the table.
At least he didn't dine alone, being accompanied by about 30 others for the meal.

Although information about the inaugural meal is sparse,
there is lots of information about Jefferson's favorite foods at table in Monticello
and about some of the meals served in the White House during his presidency
here at this site:

Generally, the evening meals were sumptuous; however,
describes one guest of the Jefferson White House who was rather disappointed
that he had only been served "rice soup, round of beef,
turkey, mutton, ham, loin of veal, cutlets of mutton or veal,
fried eggs, fried beef, a pie called macaroni ... ."
This same diner also enjoyed ice cream, 
and "a dish somewhat like pudding ... covered with cream sauce... ."
To that we can add "jimcracks" an assortment of nuts, candies, and fruits.
The meal sounds lavish by today's standards,
so it is hard to imagine just what this gentleman was expecting.
Maybe he was aware of Jefferson's reputation as a connoisseur
and was dismayed that many of the dishes were somewhat ordinary.
But who knows? His expectations shall remain a minor mystery.

At home in Monticello, 
Jefferson enjoyed vegetables--over 250 varieties, 
but most especially peas. says that Jefferson loved peas 
the way Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans.
Jefferson also had his cooks prepare blanc mange, 
a kind of milk or cream pudding,
which, incidentally, my maternal grandmother also used to make.
Because it is predominately milk, sugar, and gelatin, I never ate any;
so I can't speak to its flavor. I would imagine it's similar to a vanilla pudding though.

Even though I'm not a fan of blanc mange,
I can share Jefferson's affection for some of his breakfast foods.
Breakfasts at Monticello were less elaborate than the evening meals,
but included "tea, coffee, muffins, hot wheat and corn bread
cold ham and butter."

Hot bread and butter?
Now that's good food,
whether for pauper or for president.

No comments: