McLeod Press Release

Media Contact:
Melissa Wood, 703-799-5203
Images available upon request
For Immediate Release
November 21, 2011
Mount Vernon Serves Up Culinary History in Dining With the Washingtons
Mount Vernon, VA—Just in time for the holiday entertaining season, George Washington’s Mount
Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens is serving up a fascinating new book exploring the menus,
diets, and styles of entertaining that characterized the beloved home of the nation’s foremost
founding father. Published in partnership with the University of North Carolina Press, Dining with
the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertainment, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon is a
beautifully bound, hardcover 236-page volume packed with compelling expert essays and recipes
that capture the flavors of early America. With 230 color illustrations and stunning photos, the
coffee-table-style book makes the perfect gift for history buffs, novice cooks and culinary veterans
Featuring a foreword by former White House executive chef Walter Scheib, the book contains more
than 90 historic recipes adapted for modern kitchens by renowned culinary historian Nancy Carter
Crump. Contemporary chefs can try their hands at Mount Vernon seasonal favorites like ragout of
asparagus and festive “cherry bounce” liquor, Martha Washington’s crowd-pleasing great cakes, or
General Washington’s favorite breakfast, hoecakes.
“Cooking, dining, and entertaining were important topics in Washington’s time, and they’re
certainly relevant subjects today,” said James C. Rees, president, George Washington’s Mount
Vernon. “People like to know where our leaders and celebrities are dining, what they’re eating, and
how they’re entertaining. This book gives us an opportunity to remind people that George and
Martha Washington weren’t just the first ‘First Couple.’ They were first-class entertainers as well.”
Nevertheless, George Washington might be surprised to find his dining and entertaining habits to be
Contact Melissa Wood for review copies/author interviews [703]-799-5203
an area of such great interest. He once wrote to his longtime friend George William Fairfax, “My
manner of living is plain. . . . A glass of wine and a bit of mutton is always ready—such as will be
content to partake of it are welcome—those who look for more will be disappointed.”
Although he was often known to steer clear of grandiosity, Washington’s style of entertainment was
hardly simple but rather characterized by the elegance and finery befitting a man of wealth, a
triumphant military leader, and a distinguished statesman. His Mount Vernon estate became known
far and wide for its boundless hospitality, for the frequent and memorable parties, and for the wide
variety of culinary treats that were served in great abundance at the Washingtons’ tables.
The book also showcases the wealth of research resources and historical expertise that make Mount
Vernon one of the nation’s most significant historic sites and most beloved national treasures. To
develop the book, Mount Vernon pulled extensively from its own sources, including memoirs,
diaries, plantation documents, archaeological research, and the personal correspondence of the
Washington family and their visitors. For thoughtful essays and commentary, Mount Vernon turned
to its own expert staff, including Mary V. Thompson, Research Specialist; Dennis J. Pogue, Vice
President for Preservation; Carol Borchert Cadou, Vice President for Collections; J. Dean Norton,
Director of Horticulture; Esther White, Director of Archaeology; and Steven T. Bashore, Manager
of Historic Trades. Stephen McLeod, Assistant to the President, edited the volume.
The idea for a new coffee-table-style book that blended period recipes familiar to the Washingtons
with other aspects of entertaining guests at Mount Vernon, was that of The Founders, Washington
Committee for Historic Mount Vernon, one of Mount Vernon’s principal sponsor groups. Since its
establishment in 1980, The Founders have developed and supported a wide range of projects,
publications, programs, and events which further the objectives of the Mount Vernon estate, raising
over one million dollars while adding inestimably to the Mount Vernon experience. Twenty-five
years ago, The Founders created Mount Vernon’s first cookbook, which included back-to-back
recipes in an old-fashioned spiral bound book that is currently in its eighth edition.
The book’s release also coincides with a similarly-themed exhibition, Hoecakes & Hospitality:
Cooking with Martha Washington, which opens February 18, 2012, in the F.M. Kirby Foundation
Gallery of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum at Mount Vernon. On view through summer 2013, the
exhibition celebrates food at Mount Vernon and Martha Washington’s role as early America’s
premier hostess. Following food from the Estate’s field to kitchen to table, visitors will see recipes
and cookbooks that Martha treasured, pots that simmered in her kitchen, and fine table wares that
made Mount Vernon’s dining room fit for a president.
Dining with the Washingtons is priced at $35.00 and is available at The Shops at Mount Vernon,
online at, online directly from UNC press (, and in
bookstores, specialty shops, and online retailers throughout the nation.
Contact Melissa Wood for review copies/author interviews [703]-799-5203