Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ulysses S. Grant's Second Inaugural Ball

The menu for Ulysses S. Grant’s second Inaugural Ball reflects the opulence of the Gilded Age. A New York Times article dated March 5, 1873 contains a mind-boggling list of dishes and provisions served, including:

10,000 fried oysters; 63 boned turkeys; 75 roast turkeys; 150 roast capons stuffed with truffles; 15 saddles of mutton; 200 dozen quails; 300 tongues ornamented with jelly; 200 hams; 30 baked salmon, 100 chickens; 400 partridges; 25 boar’s heads: 3,000 ham sandwiches; 3,000 beef-tongue sandwiches; 1,600 bunches of celery; 30 barrels of salad; 2,000 pounds of lobster; 2,500 loaves of bread; 8,000 rolls; 24 cases of Prince Albert crackers and 1,000 pounds of butter.

If that weren't enough, dessert menu items included 300 charlotte russes; 200 moulds of blanc mange; 300 gallons of assorted ice creams; 400 pounds of mixed cakes; 25 barrels of Malaga grapes; 15 cases of oranges; 5 barrels of apples; 400 pounds of mixed candies; 200 pounds of shelled almonds; 300 gallons of claret punch; 200 gallons cof offee; 200 gallons of tea and 100 gallons of hot chocolate.

But the best laid plans can go awry, even for a president. The weather that evening was freezing and the temporary ballroom had no heat. Guests danced in their hats and overcoats, they ran out of hot chocolate and coffee, and perhaps most tragically, most of the decorative caged canaries (which were supposed to be happily chirping) froze!

Credit: Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze.

Enter to Win Book Giveaway by clicking here