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Read online or Download The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge (Full PDF ebook with essay, research paper)
by Becky Libourel Diamond

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Westholme Publishing
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5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)


A Lavish Seventeen-Course Meal that Launched a New Age of American Dining
In 1851, fifteen wealthy New Yorkers wanted to show a group of Philadelphia friends just how impressive a meal could be and took them to Delmonico’s, New York’s finest restaurant. They asked Lorenzo Delmonico to “astonish our Quaker City friends with the sumptuousness of our feast,” and assured him that money was no object, as the honor of New York was at stake. They were treated to a magnificent banquet, enjoyed by all. However, not to be outdone, the Philadelphia men invited the New Yorkers to a meal prepared by James W. Parkinson in their city. In what became known as the “Thousand Dollar Dinner,” Parkinson successfully rose to the challenge, creating a seventeen-course extravaganza featuring fresh salmon, baked rockfish, braised pigeon, turtle steaks, spring lamb, out-of-season fruits and vegetables, and desserts, all paired with rare wines and liquors. Midway through the twelve-hour meal, the New Yorkers declared Philadelphia the winner of their competition, and at several times stood in ovation to acknowledge the chef ’s mastery. In The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America’s First Great Cookery Challenge, research historian Becky Libourel Diamond presents the entire seventeen-course meal, course by course, explaining each dish and its history. A gastronomic turning point, Parkinson’s luxurious meal helped launch the era of grand banquets of the gilded age and established a new level of American culinary arts to rival those of Europe.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Diamond, a journalist and research historian (Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School) specializes in reconstructing 18th- and 19th-century American recipes. This richly detailed chronicle showcases the fantastic dining experience concocted in 1851 by Philadelphia chef James W. Parkinson in response to a challenge from 15 wealthy New Yorkers who claimed their city produced the best meals. Parkinson, an early advocate of American foods, devised a 17-course banquet (including wines) that took more than 11 hours to consume. Diamond dishes out more than the menu of this remarkable meal, deconstructing each course with details of the class mores, cultural habits, and food preferences of elite 19th-century Americans. Diamond adds another layer of richness to her account by weaving in the history of the various foods and the array of utensils, touching on soup’s 5,000-year-old history and heralding “the invention of leak-free containers which could withstand boiling over an open fire.” This tale of a Gilded Age mega-meal will delight culinary historians and anyone wanting a peek at over-the-top consumption. (Oct.)

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