What do you think of when you hear the name Thomas Jefferson? For most you think of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress and his eventual election as president of the United States. What many don’t know, is that Jefferson is also known as one of our country’s first foodies.
Tomorrow (April 13), we celebrate Jefferson’s 269th birthday. There would be no greater tribute to this founding father than to prepare a healthy meal featuring local ingredients and some good wine.
Jefferson was in tune to his health and despite his busy life leading our new nation, he focused on exercise and nutrition. Jefferson believed in eating red meat and drinking wine in moderation, and consuming a lot of vegetables.
He was so committed to vegetables that he planted the garden at Monticello with more than 330 varieties of vegetables — from okra to cabbage, to chiles to eggplant, the garden had it all. It is believed that Jefferson is the first in the “new world” to grow tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
Following in Jefferson’s footsteps, First Lady Michelle Obama plants the Whitehouse garden with onions, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, carrots and radishes. In late March, Mrs. Obama invited children from around the country to help her do the planting, in an effort to promote healthy eating.
Serendipity is excited for the warmer weather that indicates the vegetable gardens at Zuma’s Rescue Ranch south of Denver will soon be yielding some crops. For the first year ever, Zuma’s is growing vegetables exclusively for Serendipity. Jefferson would be proud.
Whether you grow your vegetables at home or buy them at a farmer’s market, here are some tasty recipes to try.
Macaroni and Cheese
Believe it or not, Jefferson had a thing for the most basic of comfort food – macaroni and cheese. However, his pasta was homemade with fresh cheese melted throughout. While he wasn’t the first American to serve the dish, he did his part to popularize it.
While touring Italy in 1787, Jefferson drew some plans for a pasta machine so he could make macaroni, a fashionable food at the time in Paris. He ended up purchasing a pasta machine enabling him to serve macaroni and spaghetti, according to the Library of Congress.
Serendipity can add a new twist to Jefferson’s old favorite by creating a macaroni bar featuring a variety of toppings for the cheesy dish. We can also prepare a variety of macaroni recipes to satisfy you palette. Here are a few recipes you can try at home.
Inspired by the wines he tasted while serving as the United State Minister to France before becoming president, Jefferson aspired to make wine at Monticello. Jefferson tried to plant traditional European grapes only to have them destroyed by pests. At the time, native grapes didn’t produce the quality of wine needed to establish the wine industry in the “new world.”
If you feel inspired to go for a bottle of French wine, see what advice Food & Wine has to offer.
Whether it’s French wine or wines from other countries, Serendipity can work with one of its sommelier partners to choose the wine that’s best for your occasion.
Happy birthday Thomas Jefferson and thank you for helping to shape America’s culinary scene!