Do you think that dinner has the power to bring people together? Me too!
I was happy to give dinner remarks to describe a most significant dinner in American history – the first Presidential Cabinet Dinner when President and Martha Washington brought members of his first Cabinet and their families together at the Morris Jumel Mansion on July 10, 1790.
The summer of 1790 was a tumultuous time for President Washington. The founding fathers were finalizing deals, protocols and philosophies for the new nation. It was a blank canvas. There was huge difference of opinion on many issues, especially between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
But Washington was a leader. He was able to bring people together. In July 1790, President and Martha Washington invited his Cabinet, wives and children to the mansion for a sightseeing tour of northern Manhattan and dinner. Today it would be called “teambuilding”.
There is no historical record of the menu. In addition to speaking, I was asked to advise on the historical dishes. The 160 diners were served dishes of the period that might have appeared on Washington’s table including fillet of salmon, layered salad, collarded pork and cherry pie. The sumptuous dinner, company and historical house setting made for a pleasurable evening.
On July 10, 1790, the thirty guests included wives Martha Washington, Eliza Hamilton and Abigail Adams – remarkable women who had their own enormous influence on the formation of the new United States. At a time when common ground had to be found, I think the Washington’s knew exactly what they were doing when they included the wives and children for dinner.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have been asked to give dinner remarks for ten minutes and I promise it will not be longer than 10 minutes because I know we are all hungry and waiting to eat. President Washington would want it this way.
We are here to commemorate a most significant dinner in the history of the United States. It is significant because of the time – 1790 – and the people.
It is the first Presidential Cabinet Dinner that took place on Saturday July 10, 1790 at the Morris Jumel Mansion.
The circumstances around this dinner are truly remarkable.
If we could step into a time machine and set the dial for 1790, this is where we would land.
It is July 10, 1790 – President George Washington has his hands full.
Just 14 years earlier on Christmas Day 1776: General Washington crossed the icy Delaware River with his troops during the American Revolutionary War to score a key turnaround victory in the field.
Five years later in Oct 1781, the Revolutionary War ends when the British surrender at Yorktown Virginia. 2 years later, the US is an independent country.
And then, on July 10, 1790, President Washington is the head of a brand new country. It is a blank canvas. What an incredibly exciting time to create a new country and a new government.
In 1790, James Madison, a leader in Congress wrote, “We are in a wilderness, without a single footprint to guide us.”
The founding fathers walked through the wilderness of democratic government with no model. Many questions had to be answered – things we take for granted today.
Washington wanted a formal Presidential protocol. How should he be addressed? His highness? His excellency? Washington settled on Mr. President.
The country had a large debt from the Revolutionary War. Who would pay it back?
He wanted to build a new capital city that would increase respect for the new nation. Where would it be?
The founding fathers were remarkable, would you not agree?
There was huge difference of opinion on these issues. Especially between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
But Washington was a leader. He was able to bring people together.
In summer 1790, Washington had an idea. He and Martha would host a walk and a dinner in northern Manhattan. Today it would be called, “Team Building.”
Washington took his cabinet for a sight seeing tour of this neighbourhood – a tour of the former Fort Washington. Many people in this room know, that in 1776, the battle for Fort Washington between the Patriots and the British was ferocious. It was war. Ships fired volleys of cannon. It is hard to believe today, but it was happening all around us.
This house, the oldest in Manhattan was built in 1765 and served as Washington’s headquarters in the Fall of 1776. Washington clearly had a fondness for this house.
In fact in the 1750s, George Washington was courting a young heiress in New York named Mary Philipse (sp?). Being too tied up with events on the frontier, he couldn’t get up to New York as often as necessary to stave off the competition, and lost out to a brother officer named Morris. The house currently known as the Morris-Jumel Mansion was their home, which they left during the Revolution, because they were British Loyalists.
242 years ago, President Washington brought his Cabinet here to his former headquarters.
He took the party for a walk. He would have been completely familiar with the hillsides, the forests, he would have shown them the site of Fort Washington, how they stood on the high ground and the view south to Manhattan.
And then they came back to this house and had dinner.
Thank you to Mary V. Thompson, Research Historian at Mount Vernon, Virginia, who provided this passage from George Washington’s diary of the excursion and dinner from Saturday July 10, 1790.
“Saturday 10th. Having formed a Party, consisting of the Vice-President, his lady, Son & Miss Smith; the Secretaries of State, Treasury & War, and the ladies of the two latter; with all the Gentlemen of my family, Mrs. Lear & the two Children we visited the old position of Fort Washington and afterwards dined on a dinner provided by Mr. Mariner at the House lately Colo. Roger Morris but confiscated and in the occupation of a common Farmer….”
Dinner would have taken place around 2 or 3pm.
The guest list boggles the mind.
Joining the Washington’s were: Thomas Jefferson (Author of the Declaration of Independence, Washington’s first Secretary of State, as well as future third President of the U. S.) Eliza and Alexander Hamilton (Washington’s first Secretary of the Treasury), John Adams (Washington’s Vice President, who would be elected President himself upon Washington’s retirement) Abigail Adams (Adams legendary wife and future first lady of the US) and Henry Knox, (Washington’s initial Secretary of War and namesake of Fort Knox)
Research suggests that the approximately thirty guests were served in the gardens surrounding the house and that the interior was used for food preparation and the various needs of the guests after a long journey to the country.
Just some quick notes on the menu. There is no historical record of the menu. Tonight’s dinner are dishes of the period that might have appeared on Washington’s table.
Thomas Jefferson would have been pleased to eat the layered salad with lettuce and beets. We know that he loved vegetables and ate meat only as a condiment.
The President would have enjoyed the filet of salmon. Washington considered himself a simple man with simple tastes. His favorite foods were fish and corn bread. However, tonight we have a more elaborate menu. He also felt that menus from the office of the President should have prestige to reflect the status of the country.
For dessert is cherry pie and ice cream. Apple and cherry pie were favorites of the President and ice cream was often on the menus of the Washingtons.
After eating, it was customary for Washington to raise a toast to the assembly and then ladies would retire to the drawing room for coffee and civilized conversation. The gentlemen would remain lingering over cigars and wine.
Dinner would have been a pleasure and the food delicious.
But the Washingtons knew dinner is just not about the food.
It was also a vehicle for bringing people together.
Learning about personal background… Family, wives, children
Giving and receiving
Dinner was a way of finding common ground.
Ladies and gentlemen. In the spirit of President Washington using dinner to find common ground, I ask you to please rise.
Please raise your glasses
and toast President George Washington and Martha Washington, the founding fathers, and the Morris Jumel Mansion on the 242nd anniversary of this significant First Cabinet dinner that took place at the this house.
Cheers to us all.
We hope that you enjoy dinner, the company of your table mates and the good cheer of the entire evening.
When I saw it, my jaw dropped. “My God, it looks just like my Mom’s kitchen.”
At first glance, Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian Museum is an exhibit of mass confusion. Everything is inexplicably out on the counters including bottles of vinegars and olive oils, countless pepper grinders stashed into every nook and cranny, dozens and dozens of copper pans, pastry cutters, carving knives, whisks of every size and even a menacing hack saw hanging off a pegboard wall.
But, the longer you look, the more it all seems to make sense. The countless knives and forks are neatly collected in canisters in one corner. A gaggle of measuring cups (some scraped with the letter ”J”) hang next to the counter for rolling out dough. A plain plastic garbage bin sits in the middle of the kitchen floor ready for service. Even a jar of Skippy peanut butter is perched beside the flour and sugar canisters because you never know when you’ll want a quick snack.
Unglamourous – maybe.
But basic, homey, happy and completely functional for a person who loves to cook – yes.
For this is holy ground. This is the kitchen of Julia Child (1912-2004), the legendary American chef who is recognized for bringing French cuisine to America with her cookbook, Mastering The Art of French Cooking, and her television programs. I could almost smell the rosemary and garlic chicken roasting in the oven.
Before Julia Child moved back to her home state of California in 2001, she donated the kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts home to the Smithsonian Museum. This exhibit features the actual kitchen, including cabinets, appliances, cookbooks, kitchen table, and hundreds of utensils and gadgets.
When Julia and her husband Paul moved into their home, on Irving Street in Cambridge, in 1961, they set out to renovate Julia’s ninth kitchen. Paul designed the 14′ X 20′ kitchen with 38-inch high maple countertops, rather than the standard 36-inch height, for her 6-foot-2-inch frame. Paul also selected the light blue-green color scheme of the kitchen’s cupboards with the simple round metal drawer pulls.
One end of the kitchen is anchored with Julia’s loved Garland gas stove and oven.
The other end of the kitchen is a wall of pots and pans that hang from pegboard panels.
The windows are covered with simple blinds opened to a view of Irving Street. Opposite the windows is a wall of cupboards where Julia stored spices, tea, instant coffee, and syrups.
It was only after an hour and a half in the kitchen did I notice cat tea cosies on top of the fridge and the cat art tucked between the kitchen utensils on the walls. Julia’s kitchen also had a junk drawer just like my Mom’s.
The exhibition gives an excellent history of Julia’s rise to culinary stardom. Through her books and television career that spanned 44 years, Julia Child brought her love of food and cooking into the homes of North Americans.
Washington D.C. has magnificent monuments – Lincoln, Jefferson, Martin Luther King.
But as a Kitchenmaniac, my favorite monument is Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian.
* Credit and thanks for the information and photos from the Julia Child Exhibit goes to the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Ave, NW. Washington, D.C.http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/food
In the same way that the bling of a perfect pair of earrings can put the finishing touch on a little black dress, jeweler/gemologist Diane Rennie of Pensacola Florida has crafted miniature copper tiles that gives lustre and personal meaning to her kitchen renovation.
“I looked at thousands and thousands of tiles that would compliment our cabinets and hardware, but I couldn’t find anything I liked”, says the designer and fabricator of bracelets, pendants and earrings that have a natural North Florida coast echo to them. “Finally I decided to make something myself.”
Indeed, Mrs. KitchenManic and I recently visited a huge, high-end tile store and were awash in a sea of beige and grey. There was nothing unique.
At the same time Diane was kitchen renovating, she was experimenting with copper clay while making jewelry. A recent development, jewelers introduced metal clays in 2009 in different tones and colours. Diane mixed powdered copper with water and an organic binder to make a clay. She then rolled out the clay into a slab of 3-4 mm thick, applied different textures with her sculpting instruments and cut it into tile shapes.
To celebrate Diane’s, and her spouse Mike’s love of wine, she chose a design of what else? – grapes. “We lived in Italy for seven years earlier in our lives and we grew to love that life of great food and wine,” she says with a lilt of reminiscence. “That whole world of Italian culture grabbed us. It seemed a nice part of our lives to be reminded of and it complimented the kitchen.”
Sculpted grapes, leaves and tendrils were attached to the textured slab with slip. The handcrafted tiles were fired in a kiln, one at a time, at 1,800 deg F for 4 hours. Magnifico. The molecules fused together to become a solid metal tile.
Like many female colleagues, Diane’s dream to become a jeweler/gemologist was a gradual process that included marriage, raising two sons, earning a Master’s Degree in Nursing and serving as a U.S. Army Nurse around the world.
“Even as a little girl, I was always making things, painting, drawing, doing artistic things,” she says. “In the ’80s, I took a silversmith course and I fell in love with it. But I had to put things on hold to bring up my two boys and be a nurse.”
Her fav is to make cuff bracelets because they offer a large canvas to add engraving and stones. Even though they’re not for everyone, there is a trend for women to go for the big bracelets.
“I tend to get ideas from my immediate environment,” she says. “In Pensacola, we have sun, sea birds, reeds and sand dunes. My inspiration comes from nature and it’s a passion that I can pour myself into.”
Custom tiles are not Diane’s mainstay, but she’d be happy to chat with anyone who is looking to add a personal touch to their kitchen. She is already talking to others about firing up more tiles.
“The tiles are a great way to add something personal and different to the kitchen,” she says. “I think of jewelry as being little sculptures, so for me, creating the tiles was the same process, only on a little larger scale.”
Diane Rennie can be contacted at: Diane.firstname.lastname@example.org
My brother Chris spends a lot of time at the gym. So it’s no wonder that his new kitchen of industrial steel shelving and spot welded railings is a fusion of beauty and toughness. With natural light filtering through the house, splashes of lively green catching the eye and gleaming white stone countertops, he has renovated his Los Angeles kitchen into an alluring workshop for cooking.
After 17 years in the City of Angels and working in marketing for a major international chocolate company, Chris has settled into the edgy neighbourhood of Melrose, a highly desirable place for young with-its and families. “I love it here,” says Chris of the Melrose hood. “It’s a transitional place and it’s fairly close to most things in downtown LA. There’s a little bit of everything here.”
Indeed, the main drag is an equal mix of tattoo parlours and funky bars alongside high end fashionista clothing stores and Hollywood gourmet restos, including MOZZA, owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali. The residential street where he lives is a quiet grove of Spanish style bungalows of families and hipsters who seem to enjoy the influx of new age art and food in their midst.
With sweeping cantilevered overhangs of red cypress and wide expanses of glass sliced into walls of solid sandstone, architect Frank Lloyd Wright has effortlessly integrated the interior of the house at Kentuck Knob with the rugged beauty of the surrounding Allegheny Mountains. Around the corner from its more famous neighbour Fallingwater, the house at Kentuck Knob was designed by Wright toward the end of his career and is the an excellent example of Wright’s organic architecture, the house blending impeccably with its surroundings.
Completed in 1956 for “I.N.” and Bernadine Hagan of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Kentuck Knob represents the realization of Wright’s achievement during his 70-year career. Forgoing the site’s uppermost location and its commanding views, Wright chose a challenging and less obvious site immediately south of the crest, nestling the house into the hillside, allowing the building to grow out of rather than dominate its setting. Wright oriented the house to the south and west for optimal solar exposure. Both dramatic and serene, the house appears almost part of the mountain itself. Designed on a hexagonal module, Kentuck Knob is a one storey Usonian house. Usonian, was a concept devised by Wright meaning affordable for common people. At 86, and hard at work on the Guggenheim Museum in New York and a dozen other residential homes, Wright said he could “shake it (Kentuck Knob) out of his sleeve at will”, never even setting foot on the site, except for a short visit during the construction phase. This would be one of the last homes to be completed by Wright before his death in April 1959.
Home is important for all of us… as a place for rest, for sharing our lives with friends and relations, for reconnecting with nature, for working, eating and living. Each living space that we “step into” here is a snapshot of the solutions that designers and builders have devised to enhance our lives. The homes display distinctive responses to their unique environments, lifestyles, sites and budgets.
Contemporary, historic, small, large, famous and hard to find, we will get inside them all to see what contributes to a perfect home.
JOHN OTA HOME celebrates the history, diversity and energy of house design in Canada, the United States and around the world. Welcome.
With soothing amber light, bookshelves that frame a glowing fireplace and dark oak mouldings that warm the entire room, David Lillico’s kitchen reflects both his love of cooking and passion for Arts and Crafts design.
“I wanted a place that would be a functional kitchen and also blend in with the Arts and Crafts style of the house,” says Mr. Lillico. “It had to be a kitchen that could be intimate and relaxing for myself as well as when I entertain my friends.”
Designed by Thornhill, Ont. architect Haim Riback, the recent 800-square-foot renovation to the Arts and Crafts house in Toronto’s High Park area includes a new kitchen, eating area, bathroom and rear entrance porch. In contrast to the sterility of contemporary industrial kitchens, stepping into Mr. Lillico’s kitchen is like being enveloped in a cocoon of warm colour, serene light and artistic furnishings.
During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, a larger than life figure in Canada and the United States was architect Arthur Erickson. I have written a book review of David Stouk’s recent biography titled, Arthur Erickson, An Architect’s Life. It was the most important book that I read in 2014.
David Stouck is professor emeritus of English at Simon Fraser University.
I wrote the book review because I found the biography to be an honest and sensitively written account of a triumphant and tragic figure of our time who was not fully understood in Canada.
The book was a finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize this past March 2014. In addition, the biography has picked up four more award nominations. They include 2 BC Book Prizes, plus the Melva Dwyer Award for best book on Canadian Art and Architecture, and a prize given by the UBC Library identified as the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Book on BC.