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Unidentified Washington's Birthday

Unidentified, February 22, 1937

The color cover of this menu depicts an oval bust-length portrait of George Washington, derived from Gilbert Stuart's famous Athenaeum portrait. The simple interior reveals no clue as to the identity of the hotel or restaurant. Holiday treats include Independence punch, red cherry pie, and Washington Cream Pie.

In an article in the New York Times (Feb. 21, 1937), Florence Brobeck describes what Washington's birthday celebrations might have been like at Mount Vernon in his lifetime: "For the President's birthday the guests might be entertained with a "kettle drum," a glorified afternoon tea, according to one old record. But the birthday cake, no matter what type of entertainment, was always present, decorated with candles made by the mistress of the house. It was a rich pound cake frosted and decorated with the lighted home-made candles and wreathed in smilax and flowers. Beside it stood decanters and glasses in readiness for the drinking of the General's health."

Curious what might have been served to Washington on his birthdays? Check out Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats--these were the recipes that were in her kitchen!

From the Culinary Institute of America Menu Collection, Smiley Family Menu Collection, menu 27-920.