Saturday, July 3, 2010

John Adams Gooseberry Fool

As a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, John Adams was one of the most vocal advocates of the Declaration of Independence. Contrary to popular belief, the Declaration of Independence was initially approved on July 2, 1776. The delegates then debated and slightly revised it and formally adopted it on the fourth of July. Most historians agree that the Declaration wasn’t signed by all the delegates until nearly a month later, on August 2, 1776.

On July 3, 1776, John wrote a letter to his wife Abigail in which he described these momentous events. This is what he wrote:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival…It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Although no one knows what the delegates ate on those momentous days, we do know that John Adams was fond of Gooseberry Fool. As an example of how national food preferences change over time, gooseberries were abundant in John's day but are no longer widely available in the United States today.

Unless you want to grow your own little gooseberry patch, you can substitute blueberries and call this dessert Blueberry Fool. Or you can use strawberries or raspberries, whichever you prefer. Either way, this delicious little treat is simple to make and very sweet to eat!

1 pint ripe gooseberries (or blueberries)
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup cold whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, water and berries. Mash some berries to release juice. In a medium saucepan, cook over medium heat until berries are soft. Let cool, then mash with a fork.

When ready to serve, combine cream, sugar and vanilla and whip until it holds soft peaks. Gently fold in berry mixture, leaving visible streaks of berries and cream. Pour into dessert glasses and enjoy!

Credit: Declaration of Independence, painting by John Trumball