Happy 4th of July! What This Day Tasted Like in 1902…

Happy 4th of July! It has been super quiet around here on the blog since mid-May and I must say, I have missed you all terribly.  There was a family tragedy and a family illness that took me unexpectedly far away from the Vintage Kitchen for most of June. But I’m happy to write that I’m back and ready to dive into a plethora of new kitchen stories starting this week.

Exciting things coming up in July include an interview with a creative artist who will make you look at your refrigerator in an absolutely new and enchanting way; we will travel back in time to a hotel in 20th century Minnesota and share a few recipes that made them famous around the world; we’ll learn about a guy who invented one of the most addictive foods ever known to eaters; we’ll celebrate three national food recognition days and we’ll host a giveaway that is guaranteed to add a little sparkle to your life. So stay tuned on that front. July is full of fun!

In the meantime, since it’s a holiday today and you are out and about celebrating with friends and family, we’ll keep this post short – a litle dollap of history pertaining to patriotism and how Americans ate their way through Independence Day in 1902.

In that year, this guy was president…

Theodore Roosevelt – the 26th President of the United States.

And patriotic family gatherings looked something like this…

A fourth of July family picnic in St. Augustine, Florida in 1902. Photo courtesy of FilsonHistorical.org

Decorations were simple…bunting, flags, flowers and the natural settings of the great outdoors. There were parades and town concerts and special events planned throughout the day.

July 4th, 1902 in King’s River, California. Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club.

Conversations were full of pride, in the general achievements of the country. Unlike today, where the political terrain is quite rocky and American morale is at an all-time low, in 1902, patriotism was a bit more revered. President Roosevelt prepared a speech saying nothing but thank you to the American military for continuing to extend and uphold the open arm ideals of the United States and pledged to continue to promote peace and tolerance throughout the world.

In American households during the early 20th century, the 4th of July was the one day where political affiliations were set aside. What was celebrated in conversation was not that someone was a Democrat or a Republican but instead an American. And topics led more towards incredible examples of what had been achieved in the past as a unified country as opposed to criticisms about the work that still needed to be accomplished individually.

Eating occurred on a large all-day scale with a full breakfast, lunch and dinner… each incorporating the colors of the American flag. Here’s a suggested menu from Woman’s Favorite Cook Book published in 1902…

Woman’s Favorite Cook Book, 4th of July Menu, 1902

You’ll notice, even back then, the holiday has always been about cooking and spending time together. The kitchen would have been a hotbed of activity (just like it still is today) preparing all the staples we still enjoy eating on the Fourth – ice cream, salads, garden vegetables, fresh berries, cake. Our national pride might be much more diluted now than it was 116 years ago but our bellies are traditionally still enjoying the same types of food. That is a comfort at least.

Theodore Roosevelt once said…“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

Teddy would have appreciated all the new voices coming forth this year (no pun intended!) in our fights for democracy and fairness and freedom for every person in America. He would have admired all the political bravery that exists today and marveled at all that we have accomplished so far.  Americans of the early 20th century would have lauded our collective efforts too, noting how far we have come on the food scene as far as innovations and improvements and equipment while still managing to keep the culinary traditions of our ancestors alive.

So it is with that in mind that we say cheers to the holiday, to the progress we have made, and to the traditions we still hold dear. However you choose to celebrate the 4th of July – whether you are partying it up at a fish fry, a barbeque, a picnic, a seafood boil or a campfire roast – I hope your holiday is filled with fun, family, and friends. May it be peaceful and light. And may all those fireworks be bright. Cheers to a happy holiday! We’ll see you back in the Kitchen shortly.

Happy 4th!

Goodness gracious! Is it scorching hot here in the South!

Everything is either wilting or dripping. The garden has been wind-whipped by hot dry dust storms almost everyday, and that is after we went through an almost tornado storm on Sunday with 60 mph wind gusts, thunder and lightening. The garden is starting to show some wear and tear.  Pictures will come later this week.

In the meantime… the heat of the summer always signals the start of Ms. Jeannie’s movie marathons. There is nothing more decadent then curling up by a fan and losing yourself in the lengthy plot lines of seasonal tv shows, mini series and movie epics.  That’s how she was first introduced to Mad Men, the Tudors, Empire Falls, Castle, The Godfather, Good Neighbors…

So it is with that in mind, if you are experiencing a horrendous heat wave in your neck of the woods as well, that Ms. Jeannie recommends a most patriotic mini-seies for this holiday week… the HBO mini-series John Adams.

This came out a few years ago(2008), but the more Ms. Jeannie talks about this movie, the more she realizes a lot of people never saw it. If you fall in that boat, here’s the trailer…

Delightfully, it starts out in the winter with John Adams (played fantastically by Paul Giamatti) riding his horse through a blizzard in 1770 Boston.  Just watching that scene alone instantly cools you off and makes you forget about the temperature outside.

John Adams – Opening Scene

The mini-series is based on the thoroughly researched book John Adams by David McCullough.

A New York Times Bestseller! John Adams by David McCullough

Like the book, the mini-series painstakingly brought every single detail of colonial life alive in the production. Tom Hanks, a huge history buff, was one of the executive producers. It stars in addition to Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney (Abigail Adams), Tom Wilkinson (Ben Franklin) and David Morse (George Washington). The production team was dedicated to making the film look and feel exactly like life would have been in 1770’s America.

Official Poster. Such a smart tagline…He united the states of America.

They even aged the teeth of John and Abigail so by the end, they were pretty decayed. Exactly what people’s teeth would have looked like at the time! The whole production is a visual feast for not only the eyes but the imagination as well.

The opening theme delighted Ms. Jeannie.  Simple yet so dramatic and full of emotion. You can’t help but feel inspired by just watching that!

Since Ms. Jeannie used to live in Philadelphia it was equally fascinating to look at the sets and then remember the city as she knew it. Of course she has the done the history tour of Philadelphia many times, but now after watching the movie and reading the book she feels like she understands that time period, the city and our early government so much better now.

So if you want to fall in love with America all over again, Ms. Jeannie highly recommends losing yourself in this eight hour marathon. She guarentees you will walk away with a different perspective on our forefathers struggle to create our nation of independence.

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” – John Adams

Have 4th of July dear blog readers!