Thursday, August 22, 2013

Today's dose of scurvy-fighting citrus history

contributed by Kristin M. Zosa Puleo, Museum Event and Program Coordinator

I'm going to go ahead and venture to guess that if you've ever worked in a bar, sat at a bar, or concocted your own beverage in which one of the main ingredients was lime juice, this bottle (above) looks quite familiar to you. Heck, even if you've never used the stuff before, you've probably seen it in your grocery store's beverage aisle (note: this company also makes grenadine, which makes for a mean Shirley Temple).

So where is this blog posting going you ask?

As you may know, we here at the museum are in the midst of a comprehensive collections inventory. For the past three months, I've had the pleasure of going through newspaper clippings, advertisements, prints, and engravings, which, for the most part, date from the mid-1800's through the mid 1900's. I've been finding some interesting material, some of which you may have seen if you follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter (and if you don't follow us, and you subscribe to such social media, then you should click on the above links and "like" or "follow" us). Earlier this week, I came across this advertisement, from the September 19, 1883 edition of a British newspaper called The Graphic:

Of course, this prompted me to hit up Google for some information. What I came across was rather interesting, so the point of this blog post is to share the wealth with you all. Enjoy!

L. Rose & Company was founded by Lauchlin Rose in Leith, Edinburgh in 1865. In 1867, Rose patented a method to preserve citrus juice and prevent fermentation without the use of alcohol. According to the Merchant Shipping Act of 1867, all ships of the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy were required to provide a daily lime ration to sailors to prevent scurvy (fun fact: this is why British sailors are known as "limeys"). Prior to Rose's innovation, rum was used to preserve the lime juice. Needless to say, the sailors were not particularly happy about losing their rum; nevertheless, Rose's West Indian Lime Juice became a staple on board.

So there you go, Rose's Lime Juice was drunk by sailors, sans alcohol, to prevent scurvy. Think of that the next time you're whipping up a tasty margarita or gimlet! And while you're at it, share this random factoid with your friends while concocting said beverages, because who doesn't love to be that person?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bargaining around the Dinner Table

Contributed by Richard J.S. Gutman, Director and Curator of the Culinary Arts Museum

On January 20, 2013, the date of President Obama's actual swearing-in for his second term, CBS Sunday Morning predictably included a number of presidential stories on the program.

In one segment, Jon Meacham, author of the new book Thomas Jefferson. The Art of Power, remarked that "the lesson for President Obama from Thomas Jefferson is to use the dinner table, to bring people come to the president's house...Literally, that's what Jefferson did every night Congress was in session, have dinner with members of Congress."

The course of history was changed at a Jefferson dinner party on June 20, 1790, before he became president. Jefferson, then Secretary of State, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and future president James Madison were at this legendary gathering where the "Dinner Table Bargain" was struck. The agenda included determining a permanent location for the capital city of the fledgling republic (New York City was then the capital of the United States) and important fiscal matters regarding assumption of all state debts by the federal government.

It is generally regarded that politics in Jefferson's time was as polarized as it is today, and when Jefferson became president, he utilized his fondness for entertaining as a political tool to bring people together for small dinner parties.

President Obama may well follow Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Meacham's advice, but the political climate today is such that when the President invited guests to the White House for a special screening of Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, with the members of the cast and crew, not a single Republican chose to attend this acclaimed homage to the first Republican president.

In the Culinary Arts Museum collection there is an invitation to dinner at Jefferson's White House, but it was used by the president as a piece of "scratch paper." He noted the schedule of Virginia mail delivery on the reverse of this card. The unused front of the invitation is illustrated on our website: On View, Dinner at the White House. Accompanying the artifact is a note: "Found at Monticello. 27 June 1827"