Feasting at Monticello

Published:November 20, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

In time for Thanksgiving, the University of Virginia Magazine presents “The Jefferson Thanksgiving Challenge.” After researching the various ingredients available to the enslaved cooks at Monticello this time of year, the magazine’s staff asked alumni chefs to come up with Jeffersonian dishes with a modern twist.

Lest you get too excited imagining Thomas Jefferson celebrating Thanksgiving …

Thanksgiving as we know it wasn’t celebrated as a national holiday until 1863, though from 17th century on, many American colonies (and later, states) observed Thanksgiving with a day of fasting and prayer. As president, Jefferson did not issue proclamations encouraging states to observe the holiday, as he was opposed to government “intermeddling with religious … doctrines,” as he wrote to Reverend Samuel Miller in 1808.

He really was persnickety about that, wasn’t he? More about Jefferson and religion here.

IMAGE: Photograph of Monticello dining room by Philip Beaurline (Thomas Jefferson Foundation)