Thomas Jefferson may have been the original farm-to-table foodie. At his Monticello estate, he grew 330 vegetable varieties and 170 fruit choices. The meals he served often made the pages of statesmen’s journals and celebrity’s letters. Statesboro has a seat at that renowned table on Monday, May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Statesboro Library, when cookbook author Damon Lee Fowler talks about his Dining at Monticello, the only cookbook authorized by the Jefferson Foundation.
The writer of five cookbooks and food writer for the Savannah Morning News, Fowler will offer anecdotes from Jefferson’s culinary history, share photos of the lush restored gardens, and provide the inside story on recipes from America’s second President. The program is sponsored by The Friends of the Library, and it is free and open to the public.
With Dining at Monticello, Fowler has been praised for a book of both historical significance and delicious ideas. Says Publishers Weekly, “This intriguing book…will appeal to fans of Americana and culinary history.” The Journal of Southern History adds, "Ambitious [and] beautiful."
This event will be more than food for thought. Guests will have an opportunity to sample dishes, some from recipes originally written in Jefferson’s own hands. Topping the list will be one of Jefferson’s favorites – ice cream. He is sometimes mistakenly credited with introducing the confection in America, probably because he scooped it up as often as possible. In fact, shortly after becoming president, he had an icehouse built at his capital residence so he could enjoy the dessert year round. Other Virginia favorites on the event menu include Monticello-style ham and biscuits, cornbread, lemon tarts and apple custard.
The Friends of the Library is working with the Mainstreet Farmers Market to gather fresh ingredients from local farmers to be used in the recipes as a celebration of Jefferson’s belief in farm-to-table eating. Dishes served at the event will feature fruits, vegetables, dairy products, corn meal, eggs, spices and other local products. This partnership is an extension of the Library’s community outreach every Saturday at the Farmers Market, downtown in the Sea Island Bank parking lot. The Friends offer free books to children, used books for donations and information on community events.
The Friends of the Library is an organization that champions the Statesboro library by fundraising, volunteering to help with library programs and advocating for legislative support. In the past year, the Friends raised over $17,000 to fund materials, programs and new computers for the library. The Meet the Author program is the entertainment for the group’s annual meeting.