Soon the U.S. will be celebrating its Independence Day. No president is more associated with American ideals than George Washington. Yet, similar to the current presidential campaign rhetoric, myths equally abound regarding the nation’s first president and Colonial War hero. Just consider...
- Then: George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree.
- Now: Barack Obama was never born in Kenya.
- Then: George Washington left formal education at 14.
- Now: Barack Obama attended Columbia University and Harvard University on work and grant scholarships.
- Then: George Washington refused his general’s salary of $48,000 while serving for 8 years as commander of the Continental Army. Instead, he billed Congress only for his expenses, which totaled $447,220!
- Now: Mitt Romney has accepted no public campaign donations, choosing instead to rely on Super PACS funded by millionaires.
- Then: George Washington was the only slave-owning President who ever freed his slaves – all 124 of them.
- Now: Despite current political ads, illegal immigration is down 60% since 2000.
- Then: George Washington never knelt at Valley Forge or anywhere else. He occasionally attended the Episcopal Church but was known to never kneel with the Congregation or to receive Communion.
- Now: Barack Obama is a Christian. Period, end of discussion.
- Then: Washington operated one of the new nation’s most commercial successful distilleries at Mt Vernon, producing rye whiskey, apple and peach brandies.
- Now: Religious guidelines aside, the White House needs to continue to represent the bounty of America to its many international guests, including California’s wines and Kentucky’s legendary whiskeys and bourbons.
- Then: George Washington hosted a nearly endless stream of guests. He also belonged to many social clubs and service organizations such as the Fish House Club and Masons.
- Now: Mitt Romney often restricts press and public access, limits questioning and won’t release multi-year income tax filings.
As you can see, the U.S. has come a long way, and yet, still has further to go. So, why not skip the patriotically named red-white-and-blue colored cocktails this Fourth, and drink what Washington drank, the famed Fish House Punch, matched with his favorite Colonial Hoe Cakes.
It’s a strong drink, but it’s honest – the way we still long for our politicians to be.
Fish House Punch
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ cups fresh lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons), strained
- 1 (750-ml) bottle Jamaican amber rum
- 12 oz. Cognac (1 1/2 cups)
- 2 oz. peach brandy (1/4 cup)
- Lemon Slices
- Special Equipment: Half Gallon Cardboard Juice or Milk Carton, Top end cut off
- To make ice block, fill carton with water and freeze until solid, about 8 hours.
- Stir together sugar and 31/2 cups water in a large bowl or pot until sugar is dissolved.
- Add lemon juice, rum, Cognac, and brandy and chill, covered, at least 3 hours.
- Put ice block in a punch bowl and pour punch over it.
Colonial Hoe Cakes
- 1 ½ cups self-raising cornmeal
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 Tbsp melted shortening
- ¼ cup melted shortening
- Combine cornmeal and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- Add buttermilk, egg and 1 tbsp melted shortening.
- Stir until just moistened.
- Heat ¼ cup of shortening to 365 in large cast iron skillets. (Originally baked on a hoe’s metal surface, hence the name).
- Pour ¼ cup batter into skillet for each hoe cake.
- Fry 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve with butter and honey.
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2012
Post Note, June 27, 2012: If you are looking for a great movie to honor the 4th that is historically accurate and entertaining, check out 1776, the Musical. It's a patriotic must.