Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Washington’s Birthday, 1910.

This day, as my American friends are aware, is celebrated as the birthday of George Washington, first President of the United States. Washington himself celebrated his birthday on February 11, but this date became the 22nd when the Gregorian calendar was finally accepted in Britain and all her Dominions in 1752. I briefly explained this re-jigging of the calendar in a story several years ago, and made mention of it again in one about Frances Trollope (mother of the novelist Anthony Trollope ), who attended a ball in honour of the great man on this day in 1829.

Today I give you the menu from U.S.S Wilmington on Washington’s birthday in 1910. The ship was in Canton, China at the time, but there is nothing even vaguely oriental on the menu – nor should there be, for such an important national day. I am not sure then, why ‘English’ ham is there – perhaps it was symbolically routed in recognition of the Washington’s success in leading the American army to victory over her colonial masters. The other puzzle, which perhaps a military historian can answer, is why the menu styles the U.S.S Wilmington as ‘the trophy ship.’

Queen Olives      Celery
Oyster Soup
Roast Goose      Roast Chicken
Chestnut Dressing
Giblet Gravy     Cranberry Sauce
English Ham
Mashed Potatoes      Sweet Potatoes
Cream Peas
Pumpkin Pie
Lemon Custard Pie
Chocolate Layer Cake
Jelly Roll Slices
Oranges     Bananas      Apples
Cigars    Cigarettes    Mixed Nuts

Chestnut Dressing – Mrs. L.A.Lancel
1 lb. chestnuts boiled, 1 lb. beer, ½ lb. fresh pork, chopped all together. Season with salt and pepper; add ¼ loaf of baker’s bread soaked in water and drained, and 2 beaten eggs.
San Rafael Cook Book, 1906.

Quotation for the Day.
Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake.


Les said...

I don't know about why the USS Wilmington was called a trophy ship but I looked her up and she's had quite a career. She was active in the Spanish American War, sailed up the Amazon River and crossed the ocean to sail up the Yangtze River.
I'd conclude she deserves the title considering all she had done for the US Navy.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Wilmington_%28PG-8%29

Marcheline said...

Oooooh, sounds like Thanksgiving! Mouth watering now. And what a great recipe for stuffing - with beer! Yummy!

Judy said...

One does wonder why it wasn't a Virgina baked ham. And what are 'Queen Olives'?

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks everyone:
Les - it certainly sounds like she deserved the title of trophy ship, but I suspect there was some particular story associated with the name too.
Marcheline: it does sound like Thanksgiving!
Judy: I wondered about the Virginia Ham myself. I think Queen olives were just large olives, but I admit I havent looked it up. Fodder for another blog post, perhaps?