Early American history is rich with a delicious mixture of traditional dishes and newly discovered foods. Historic figures like Thomas Jefferson, whose table was set, as Daniel Webster famously remarked, “in half Virginia, half French style, in good taste and abundance” are great sources of inspiration for modern cooks and hosts.
Monticello librarian and self-confessed foodie, Endrina Tay, shares her love for history and the culinary arts with the following cookbook recommendations and recipe suggestions for the Revolving Bookstand series.
"Dining at Monticello"
This is a beautiful book that combines Jefferson family recipes that any home cook will enjoy with solid, historical research on Thomas Jefferson, his love for good food and fine wine, and on all aspects of foodways at Monticello. Filled with rich and fascinating details of ingredients and culinary practices from the period, coupled with stunning photography, this is definitely a book to feast your eyes on!
To complement your traditional ham or roast beef dinner for the holidays, I suggest trying these delightful vegetable sides - Asparagus with Herb Vinaigrette (page 136) or French Beans in Butter Sauce (page 138).
"A Sweet Taste of History"
The newest cookbook from famed Chef Walter Staib focuses on sweet treats and confectionary from eighteenth-century America. Accompanied by beautiful and mouth-watering illustrations for many of the historically placed dessert recipes featured, this elegant cookbook will inspire and impress any consummate cook or baker with a sweet tooth!
Looking for an easy make-ahead dessert to serve at your holiday party? My suggestion – the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Tartlets (page 188)!
"Dining with the Washingtons"
This is a lavish work that celebrates food and dining at Mount Vernon, and the social life and customs of George and Martha Washington as they entertained scores of guests at their Virginia plantation. Detailed historical essays and recipes make this work a culinary delight.
Tired of serving the usual fare at your holiday table this year? Surprise your guests and family with Veal Scaloppini or “Scotch Collops” (on page 144).
Endrina Tay is Associate Foundation Librarian for Technical Services at the Jefferson Library at Monticello. Since joining the Foundation in 2002, she has been responsible for creating access to Monticello’s research and library resources, training and supervising library volunteers, and adapting technology solutions for the Jefferson Library. Since 2004, she has been project manager for Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries, a project based at Monticello in partnership with LibraryThing.com, to build a comprehensive and publicly accessible inventory of the books Jefferson owned, read, and recommended during this lifetime.