Today marks Constitution Day, commemorating the signing of the U.S. Constitution by the founding fathers on September 17, 1787. To celebrate, ICE’s resident culinary historian Cathy Kaufman gave a hands-on demonstration for students on the food and drink of the late eighteenth century.

Kaufman presented recipes written at the time and challenged the students to interpret and recreate the dishes of early experts in American cuisine. Drawing on English, Dutch, German and Native American traditions, early American recipes were passed through generations before being written into books. Early American recipes were often closely linked to politics. In fact, Chef Cathy included a recipe from Martha Washington and Thomas Jefferson’s close relative, Mary Randolph.For example, one of the recipes the class prepared was for a celebratory election cake, originally served in the town square on Election Day as the crowd waited for the polls to close and hear the results of their vote.

The demo celebrated these historical recipes as well as our founding fathers and Constitution Day. The room was decorated in red, white and blue, and the students took part in a rousing chorus of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” There was even a surprise guest appearance by Ben Franklin. It’s too bad Director of Student Affairs Chef Andy Gold stepped out and missed it!

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