martedì 15 marzo 2016

The Thousand-Dollar Dinner, the first cookery challenge in History.



"Neither in England nor in America have I ever seen so superb a banquet, and I never expect to see, nor do I think any of you will ever see, such another."



Era l'aprile dell'anno 1851 quando la primavera della città di Philadelphia stava cominciando ad esprimersi donando ai propri cittadini i primi giorni tiepidi e godibili, e quando si stava altresì preparando un evento che avrebbe rivoluzionato la storia culinaria dell'intero paese: trenta gentlemen, quindici provenienti da New York e quindici residenti in Philadelphia, furono coloro che legarono il proprio nome a questo avvenimento che prese il nome di  “The Thousand-Dollar Dinner”, dall'ammontare del denaro che venne a costare - oggi si calcola che proporzionalmente costerebbe ben 32 volte in più - connotato dalla raffinatezza, dalla magnificenza delle portate e dall'opulenza che lo caratterizzò, una cena, o forse sarebbe più appropriato dire un banchetto, costituito da 17 portate, che li tenne seduti a tavola per ben 12 ore, circondati da eleganza e raffinatezza, buongusto e ricercatezza nei dettagli, sia degli ambienti in cui l'incontro si svolse, sia delle decorazioni e del contenuto dei singoli piatti che vennero serviti, sia nella scelta dei vini, che lo caratterizzarono.

Ma procediamo con ordine, senza anticipare nulla, seguendo il corso degli eventi da che questo avvenimento inizia con il delinearsi qualche mese prima.

New York City fu uno dei primi centri ad acquistare fama nel nuovo continente, sia da un punto di vista commerciale che in quanto ad espansione demografica, a cultura e a benessere, tanto da essere assunto a pieno titolo già agli inizi del XIX secolo come uno dei più ferventi e vivaci capoluoghi; qui, nel 1827, con l'ammontare di $ 20.000 in monete d'oro i fratelli Giovanni e Pietro Del Monico, ex capitano di marina e conoscitore di vini il primo, affermato pasticcere il secondo, provenienti dal Canton Ticino, unica parte della Svizzera in cui si parlava ed ancora si parla la lingua italiana, aprirono una caffetteria che serviva pasticceria francese 


nel locale affittato al numero 23 di William Street, e già tre anni più tardi conquistarono quella celebrità che consentì loro di espandersi per giungere ad 'inglobare' anche l'edificio accanto e, grazie al nipote Lorenzo, audace sognatore che presto li raggiunse, ad avviare un ristorante che serviva cucina francese.




Ben presto si originò una forte concorrenza tra i ristoranti della città, poiché al tempo tutti i migliori cuochi di casa conoscevano solamente la cucina tradizionale britannica ed i libri di cucina americani erano britannici in natura; Lorenzo divenne responsabile dei menus, dei vini e della conduzione del ristorante in toto, la celebrità del locale cominciò con il crescere a dismisura e, quando i fratelli spostarono più volte - anche di conseguenza al grande incendio del 1835 che passò tristemente alla storia per i danni che generò, devastando più di 700 edifici -  per stabilirsi infine al numero 2 di South William Street - siamo ormai nell'estate del 1837 - circolava voce che le colonne che ornavano l'ingresso del nuovo ristorante provenissero dalle rovine di Pompei !


Già nel 1834 i fratelli svizzeri avevano acquistato ed avviato una fattoria nelle campagne circostanti che forniva loro fresche materie prime, soprattutto in quanto ad ortaggi e a carni, che contribuirono a fare la loro fortuna legando il nome del loro locale a quello di celebri personaggi, dal Presidente Lincoln agli scrittori Charles DickensOscar Wilde e Mark Twain


e che fecero di tale ambiente il rinomato ristorante che, passato di generazione in generazione, dopo aver inoltre aperto numerose sedi anche in altre città, ancor oggi possiamo apprezzare.
Nel 1851 l'originaria pasticceria, nel frattempo divenuta, nella sua sede di Broadway, al numero 25, The Delmonico Hotel



ospitò una cena che accrebbe ulteriormente la sua popolarità: Lorenzo Del Monico invitò quindici cittadini di Philadelphia che si unirono ai più eminenti cittadini newyorkesi, per fornire sia giustificazione che in qualche modo esibizione della propria fama senza ipotizzare che questo gesto avrebbe dato origine ad una sorta di 'competizione' in quanto il 19 aprile del medesimo anno i gentlemen di Philadelphia decisero di ricambiare il favore e lo fecero in modo tale da segnare la storia della 'civiltà del cibo'.

Quella sera del mese di aprile 1851, molti dei passeggeri del traghetto stavano raggiungendo così la tappa finale del loro viaggio da New York City. Per compiere il loro viaggio da Philadelphia, avevano preso un battello a vapore fino a Raritan River Amboy per poi salire su di un treno che attraversava il  New Jersey e raggiungeva Camden. Tra coloro che avevano fatto questa gita vi erano quindici gentlemen di New York abbigliati in modo impeccabile. Avevano accettato un invito a cena in un ristorante esclusivo di Philadelphia chiamato Parkinson's.
Dopo il traghetto venne ormeggiato al molo di Walnut Street, gli uomini presero le loro borse da viaggio in pelle e smontarono dal traghetto, procedendo fino al vicino di Bloodgood Hotel, che serviva anche come area di attesa per i passeggeri della ferrovia Camden - Amboy.
Entrando dalla pesante porta fatta di pannelli in vetro misero piede nel suo elegante salone. Mentre molti dei passeggeri sbarcati erano già in fila alla reception dell'hotel cercando di ottenere una stanza o noleggiare un veicolo pubblico o una carrozza, ai quindici newyorkesi era stato detto che un pilota li avrebbe attesi lì per incontrarli. Mentre stavano osservando nei dettagli la stanza, un giovane uomo si avvicinò e chiese loro se erano diretti al Parkinson's. Essi risposero di sì e il giovane, dopo essersi inchinato, e indicò loro un punto fuori, sulla strada, dove erano parcheggiate tre carrozze nere. 2

Comincia così a delinearsi l'atmosfera conviviale che farà da cornice a questa cena tra amici dell'alta società ed amanti del buon cibo nelle parole che fanno da cappello introduttivo al libro scritto da Becky Libourel Diamond, la quale, tra notizie storiche, nozioni di arte culinaria e descrizione dei luoghi ci cala nell'atmosfera di quel tempo e soprattutto di quel 'simposio' che la storia americana mai potrà dimenticare.

Di certo, ella racconta, si sa che tra questi trenta gentlemen vi erano R.B.Valentine, un agente assicurativo proveniente da New York, e Joshua Price, un facoltoso abitante di Philadelphia proveniente da un'antica famiglia di origine quacchera; frattanto al ristorante Parkinson's tutto era pronto per accoglierli in un clima elegante e raffinato che stupì tutti gli astanti: basti pensare che nel 1850 Philadelphia contava già 254 ristoranti - mentre a quel tempo New York ne contava poco più di un centinaio, anche se va detto che nel 1860 ne vedrà 'fiorire' circa quattrocento in più ! - ed, il dover reggere la concorrenza, coniugato alla bravura del proprietario e chef James W.Parkinson, divenuto negli anni popolare per il suo gelato, per la selezione di frutta fresca tropicale e di cioccolatini importati che era in grado di fornire ai propri ospiti, fecero l'arma vincente di questa sorta di duello culinario.

Ma seguiamo i nostri convenuti che ormai hanno raggiunto il ristorante e sono entrati attraverso la porta sormontata dalla scritta in rilievo nella pietra sorretta da un colonnato ( nella foto sottostante la vedete all'estrema destra ):


Subito un membro del personale si avvicinò al capo cameriere per dirgli che il tavolo era pronto. Il cameriere educatamente attese una pausa nella conversazione e poi chiese che il gruppo lo seguisse al piano superiore dove era collocata la grande sala banchetti. [...] In cima alla scala il capo cameriere li diresse verso sinistra e li condusse nella sala banchetti dove il pranzo si sarebbe tenuto. Davvero spaziosa e ariosa apparve agli occhi dei gentlemen quando la raggiunsero - le tre grandi porte che conducevano sul balcone erano ormai solo parzialmente aperta, in previsione della aria fresca della sera.

Trenta coperti di finissima porcellana, argento e cristallo erano situati attorno all'enorme tavolo di mogano, coperto con un tessuto di lino bianco, da poco inamidato. [...]


Tavolo allestito per un banchetto secondo lo stile ed il gusto tipico dell'epoca vittoriana 




Mentre gli uomini stavano divenendo partecipi di quella scena opulenta, il proprietario del ristorante, James W.Parkinson, apparve e salutò stringendo mani ovunque: si trattava di un bel giovane sulla trentina, con una testa di abbondanti capelli neri ricci, che indossava il suo grembiule da chef; anche se piacente e cordiale, egli sembrava dimesso, quasi timido, al vedere i newyorkesi meravigliati circa la sua esperienza in cucina.
Invitando i gentlemen a prendere il loro posto a tavola, Parkinson disse loro quanto fosse contento che fossero lì convenuti, e che egli sperava avrebbero gradito la cena che aveva avuto l'onore di preparare.

Ma chi era James W.Parkinson ?

Originari dell'Inghilterra e della Scozia, George Parkinson e la moglie Eleanor cominciarono la loro attività imprenditoriale aprendo prima la Burns Tavern e quindi la Green House, una taverna che prese il nome dal colore dell'edificio che la ospitava: George conduceva la taverna, mentre Eleanor si occupava della confetteria - pasticceria ad essa adiacente e fu proprio questa l'attività che più conquistò il pubblico e che indusse George ad abbandonare la propria taverna per unirsi alla moglie; la confetteria divenne presto rinomata per la produzione di gelato, soprattutto famoso quello con frutti tropicali provenienti dalle colonie e quando nel 1838 George si ritirò per cedere l'attività, già ben avviata, al figlio James, questi, che avvertiva la vocazione piuttosto per il settore della ristorazione, avviò il noto ristorante al numero 180 di Chestnut Street, cui, col tempo, se ne aggiunsero numerosi altri, sempre all'interno della città.
Oggi ormai il nome di Parkinson è conosciuto da poche persone, anche nella stessa Philadelphia, poiché non conobbe la fortuna che nel tempo caratterizzò Delmonico's, passando di generazione in generazione, ma a quei tempi il ristorante cui tale prestigioso nome era legato era rinomato per servire il miglior cibo, spesso fuori stagione - grazie al commercio che avveniva con l'estero - a prezzi modici.

Ma eccovi nelle immagini sottostanti il menù di quel celeberrimo, opulento banchetto:






Il pasto fu sorprendente, dissimile da qualsiasi cosa i newyorkesi avessero mai sperimentato prima. Ben presto si resero conto che ogni dubbio circa la competenza del timido, giovane cuoco era mal posta, ed ammisero la sconfitta con grazia. In tre diversi momenti durante il pasto i newyorkesi si alzarono in piedi in segno di apprezzamento, non solo riconoscendo che i convenuti di Filadelfia "li avevano conquistati trionfalmente", ma anche  per dichiarare all'unanimità che il pasto "aveva superato di gran lunga qualsiasi intrattenimento simile che fosse mai stato dato in questo paese.". E questo non era un complimento da poco. 4

Le parole dell'autrice ci rendono pienamente partecipi, ci coinvolgono nella lettura, ci consentono di vedere con i nostri occhi le immagini descritte come fossimo presenti, non visti, ad osservare ... la sua capacità descrittiva ci trasporta letteralmente in quella stanza lussuosa dove il banchetto sta ormai per concludersi ...

DOMENICA 20 Aprile 1851, 06:00
Le esili, candele affusolate avevano bruciato fino ai loro stoppini, il ghiaccio nei secchi si era disciolto, e il buffet era affiancato da bottiglie di vino vuote. Solo piccoli pezzi e briciole erano rimasti sull'espositore dei dolci dove orgogliosamente faceva bella mostra di sé il gateaux riccamente decorato e altra pasticceria. I trenta ospiti di Parkinson erano ancora seduti intorno al tavolo, indugiando sul loro caffè e sui loro liquori, discutendo di politica, di economia, e di altri affari della giornata. Alcuni fumavano i loro sigari. Erano rilassati, sazi, e stava per coglierli una lieve sonnolenza. La serata movimentata al fine giunta al termine. Come rispondendo ad un segnale, il master chef James Parkinson entrò nella sala del banchetto dalla cucina, il suo viso raggiante arrossato dal calore dei forni, lo sforzo di essere in piedi per tante ore, e l'emozione del suo successo. Dopo aver visto il creatore del sontuoso banchetto cui avevano preso parte, gli uomini si alzarono in piedi, applaudendo ed annuendo a dimostrazione della loro piena approvazione. Parkinson umilmente fece un inchino, ringraziandoli tutti ancora una volta, per essere lì convenuti e per avergli così dato la possibilità di mostrare loro il cibo eccezionale ed i piatti disponibili nella città di Philadelphia.
Gli uomini si alzarono dalle loro sedie allungando le braccia e le gambe. I camerieri li aiutarono a raccogliere le loro cose facendo in modo che gli ospiti tutti prendessero il loro menu come prova della loro partecipazione privilegiata a questa festa stravagante. Quindi salutarono Parkinson, sia i newyorkesi e che gli abitanti di Filadelfia ringraziandolo ancora una volta e dando un'ultima occhiata in giro, nel tentativo di imprimersi nella mente ogni vivido dettaglio. Lentamente scesero le scale, recuperarono i loro cappotti e le loro borse, e uscirono nella luce del mattino in sordina. Un gruppo di lucide carrozze era in attesa di portare i signori di New York al loro albergo, e quelli di Filadelfia alle rispettive residenze. Le loro borse furono caricate non appena si salutarono ed entrarono quindi nelle carrozze, sospirando mentre si sedevano, appoggiando la testa contro i sedili imbottiti. Tutti accolsero con favore l'idea di un buon, lungo sonno, ma nelle loro menti ancora turbinava il vissuto delle ultime dodici ore. The Thousand Dollar Dinner era finita.

Nei giorni seguenti, i giornali di Philadelphia, cui non era sfuggito l'avvenimento che rendeva onore e merito alla loro città, scrivevano:

Sabato sera, il 19 scorso, trenta gentlemen sedettero per una cena al ristorante J.W.Parkinson's, South Eight, Tt. below Chestnut, che, per la magnificenza di cui fece esibizione, superò qualsiasi cosa mai vista prima negli Stati Uniti.
- Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, April 1851


Forse il più ricco, il più elegante, il più elaborato e poetico intrattenimento mai dato prima in questo paese, si tenne in questa città la scorsa settimana, grazie al provetto pasticcere e caterer James W.Parkinson.
American Courier, April 1851 


Qui concludo questo mio lungo post non senza aver ancora una volta dato espressione al mio entusiasmo per il 'romanzo storico', frutto di accurate e doviziose ricerche, scritto in uno stile accattivante ed affascinante, di cui la dolce, adorabile Becky mi ha fatto dono ( lo potete comodamente acquistare QUI)



ve ne consiglio vivamente la lettura se volete fare un viaggio nella Philadelphia vittoriana e tra i segreti culinari degli allora famosi libri di cucina - che tanto hanno da insegnarci oggi - e degli abilissimi chef di quegli anni che ne facevano tesoro. 


Vi ringrazio sinceramente, miei carissimi amici e lettori, per avermi accompagnata fin qui nella lettura di questa entusiasmante prima sfida gastronomica della storia, supportata dalle citazioni dell'invitante scritto che mi ha tenuta compagnia in questi ultimi giorni, rendendomi piacevolmente partecipe di un evento che ancora non conoscevo .... 


Un grazie dal profondo del cuore a Becky 




e grazie a tutti voi !



A presto 














FONTI BIBLIOGRAFICHE:

Becky Libourel Diamond, The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge, Westholme Publishing, Yardley, Pennsylvania, October 28, 2015; 

WIKIPEDIA.



CITAZIONI: 

1 - Becky Libourel Diamond, The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge, Westholme Publishing, Yardley, Pennsylvania, October 28, 2015, pag. XVII; 

2 - Ibidem, pag. IX; 

3 - Ibid. pag. XI; 

4 - Ibid. pag. XVII; 

5 e 6 - Ibid. pag. 165.










"Neither in England nor in America have I ever seen so superb a banquet, and I never expect to see, nor do I think any of you will ever see, such another." 





- picture 1



It was April 1851 when the Spring of the city of Philadelphia was beginning to express itself by gifting her citizens the first warm and enjoyable days, and when it was also preparing an event that would have revolutionize the culinary history of the whole country: thirty gentlemen, fifteen coming from New York and fifteen residents of Philadelphia, were those who will link their names to this event that became known as "the Thousand-Dollar Dinner", in order to the amount of the money that it costed - today it is estimated that proportionally would cost no less than 32 times more - characterized by the sophistication,  the magnificence of the courses and by opulence which characterized it, a dinner, or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say a banquet, consisting of 17 courses, which kept them sitting at their table for 12 hours, surrounded by elegance and refinement, good taste and attention to details, of the rooms in which the meeting took place, of the decorations and of the contents of the individual dishes that were served, and for the wine selection, which characterized it.

But let's proceed with order, without anticipating anything, following the course of the events, beginning with saing that it all began a few months earlier.


New York City was one of the first centers to acquire fame in the new continent, both from a business point of view and for the population growth growth, for culture and well-being, as to be hired full title already in the early nineteenth century as one of the most fervent and vibrant capitals; here, in 1827, with the amount of $ 20,000 in gold coins the brothers Giovanni and Pietro Del Monico, a former sea captain and wine connoisseur the first, proficient pastry chef the second, coming from the canton of Ticino - only part of Switzerland Italian speaking, opened a café that served French pastry




- picture 2




in a rented local situated at number 23 of William Street, and already three years later won the celebrity that allowed them to expand their activity to be able and 'incorporate' even the building next door and, thanks to their nephew Lorenzo, daring dreamer who soon joined them, to start a restaurant that served French cuisine.




- picture 3


- picture 4




Soon it originated a strong competition among the restaurants in the city, because at the time all the best cooks in New York knew only the traditional British cooking and American cookbooks were all British in origin; Lorenzo became responsible for menus, wine and run the restaurant as a whole, its celebrity began with grow out and, when the Del Monico brothers moved several times - also as a result of  the great fire of 1835 that sadly passed to history for the damage that it made, destroying more than 700 buildings - to settle finally at the number 2 of  South William Street - we are now in the Summer of 1837 - people, to underline its importance, rumored that the columns adorning the entrance of the new restaurant came from the ruins of Pompeii !




- picture 5



Already in 1834 the Swiss brothers had bought and run a farm in the surrounding countryside which provided them fresh raw materials, especially vegetables and meat, which helped them to make their fortune by tying the name of their local to that of celebrities such as President Lincoln, the writers Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain




- picture 6




and they made of that restaurant the renowned restaurant which, from generation to generation, even after having also opened many other locals in other cities, still today we may appreciate.
In 1851 the original confectionery, which in the meantime become, at its location in Broadway, at number 25, The Delmonico Hotel,




- picture 7


- picture 8




hosted a dinner which will further increas its popularity: Lorenzo Del Monico invited fifteen citizens of Philadelphia who joined fifteen most eminent New Yorkers, to provide both justification and somehow exhibition of his fame, without assuming that this gesture would have given rise to a kind of 'competition' since on April 19th of that year the gentlemen of Philadelphia decided to return the favor, and so they'll mark the history of the 'civilization of food'. 

That evening in April 1851, many of the ferry passengers were on the final leg of their journey from New York City. To make the trip from Philadelphia, they had taken a steamboat down to Raritan River to Amboy and then boarded a train that crossed thruog New Jersey to Camden. Among those who had made this excursion were fifteen impeccably dressed New York gentlemen. They had accepted and invitation to dine at an exclusive Philadelphia restaurant called Parkinson's.
After the boat docked at the Walnut Street wharf, the men collected their leather travel cases and stepped off the ferry, making their way to the nearby Bloodgood's Hotel, which also served as a awaiting area for Camden and Amboy Railroad passengers.
Entering through the heavy glass- paneled door, they stepped into its plush parlour. While several of the disembarked passengers were already in line at the hotel desk trying to get a room or hire a hackney coach or cab, the fifteen New Yorkers had been told that a driver would be waiting there to meet them. As they scanned the room, a young man walked over and asked them if they were due at Parkinson's. They replied yes and the young man bowed and pointed to a spot on the street outside where three black carriages were parked.

Thus begins to take shape the convivial atmosphere that will host this dinner among upscale friends and lovers of good food in the words that form the chapeau of the book written by Becky Libourel Diamond, which, amongst historical information, notions of culinary arts and description of amazing places, drops us into the atmosphere of that time and especially of that 'symposium' which American History will never forget.
For sure, she says, it is known that among those thirty gentlemen there were R.B.Valentine, an insurance agent from New York, and Joshua Price, a wealthy inhabitant of Philadelphia from an old Quaker family.

Meanwhile at Parkinson's restaurant everything was ready to welcome them in a refined and elegant atmosphere that shocked them all: just think that in 1850 Philadelphia had already 254 restaurants - and at that time New York had little more than a hundred of them, although it must be said that in 1860 it will 'flourish' about four hundred more! - and, to have to withstand the competition, conjugated to the skill of the owner and chef James W.Parkinson, who became popular in the years for its ice cream, for the selection of fresh tropical fruits and imported chocolates which he was able to provide to his guests, they made the winning weapon of this sort of culinary duel.
But let's follow our gentlemen that by now have reached the restaurant and entered through the door surmounted by the inscription in relief on the stone supported by a colonnadein the picture below you can see it rightwards ):




- picture 9




Soon a staff member approached the headwaiter an gave him the signal that the table was ready. The waiter politely waited  for a lull in the conversation and then requested that the group followed him upstairs to the large second-floor banquet room. [...] At the top of the staircase the headwaiter directed them to the left, leading them to the banquet room where they would be dining.  Spacious and airy was indeed the room the men had seen when they arrived - the three large doors that led to the balcony were now just partly open, in anticipation of the cool evening air. 
Thirty place settings of the finest china, silver and crystal were situated around the enormous mahogany table, covered with a cloth of freshly starched white linen. [...] 




- picture 10 - Example of a table laid for a banquet according to the Victorian Age taste




As the men took in the opulente scene, the restaurant's owner, James W.Parkinson, appeared and greeted them shaking hands all around. A handsome young man in his early thirties with a head of abundant curly black hair, he was wearing his chef's apron. Although pleasant and cordial he seemed subdued, almost shy, making the New Yorkers wonder about his expertise in the kitchen.
Inviting the gentlemen to take their way over to the table, Parkinson told them how pleased he wasthat they could come, and that he hope they would enjoy the dinner he had the honour of preparing. 3


But who was James W.Parkinson?

Coming originally from England and Scotland, George Parkinson and his wife Eleanor began their entrepreneurial activity opening, by firts the Burns Tavern and then the Green House, a tavern that took its name from the color of the building that housed it: George led the tavern, while Eleanor took care of the confectionery - pastry shop adjacent to it, and it was this activity that most captured the public and that led George to leave his tavern to join to his wife; the confectionery soon became famous for the production of ice cream, especially the one with the famous tropical fruits coming from the colonies, and in 1838, when George retired to divest the business, already well underway, to his son James, he, who felt the vocation rather for the restaurant industry, started the popular restaurant at number 180 of Chestnut Street, to which, over time, were added several others, always within the city.

Today the name Parkinson is known by a few people, even in the same Philadelphia, because it didn't met the luck that in time characterized Delmonico's, which passed from generation to generation, but in those days it was quite known and  the restaurant to which such prestigious name was linked, was renowned for serving the best food, often out of season - thanks to the trade with foreign countries - at reasonable prices.

But here is, in the pictures below, the menu of that celebrated, opulent banquet:




- picture 11


- picture 12


- picture 13


- picture 14


- picture 15




The meal was astonishing, unlike anything the New Yorkers  had ever experienced. Soon they realized any doubt that  they had about the shy young chef's expertise was ill placed, and they gracefully admitted defeat. Three different times during the meal the New Yorkers stood in appreciation, not only to acknowledge that the Philadelphian had "conquered them triumphantly", but also to unanimously declare that the meal "far surpassed any similar entertaiment which had ever been given in this country.". This was not a light compliment. 

The author's words make us fully participate, involve us into the reading, allow us to see with our eyes the pictures described as if we were present, unseen, watching it all ... her descriptive ability literally carry us into the luxurious room where the banquet is now drawing to a close ...

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 1851, 6 A.M.
The slender, tapered candles had burned down to their wicks, the ice in the buckets was melted, and the buffet was lined with empty wine bottles. Only bits and crumbs remained on the cake stands that had proudly displayed the elaborately decorated gateaux and other confections. Parkinson's thirty guests were still seated round the table, lingering over their coffee and liquors, discussing politics, the economy, and other affairs of the day. Some puffed on cigars. They were relaxed, satiated, and getting drowsy. The eventful evening was finally at an end. As if on cue, master chef James Parkinson strode into the banquet room from the kitchen, his beaming face flushed from the heat of the ovens, the exertion from being on his feet for so many hours, and the thrill of his success. Upon seeing the creator of the sumptuous feast they had just experienced, the men were on their feet, clapping and nodding their resounding approval. Parkinson humbly took a bow, once again thanking them all for coming and giving him the chance to show them the exceptional food and preparations available in the city of Philadelphia.

The men rose from their chairs and stretched their arms and legs. The waiters assisted them in gathering their belongings. The guests all made sure that they took their menu as evidence of their privileged attendance at this extravagant feast. As they said their good-byes to Parkinson, both the New Yorkers and Philadelphian thanked him once again and took a last look around, etching every vivid detail in their minds. They slowly descended the stairs, retrieved their coats and bags, and stepped out into the muted light of the morning. A cluster of shiny carriages was waiting to take the New York gentlemen to their hotel, and the Philadelphian back to their residences. Their bags were loaded as they said their good-byes and stepped into the the carriages, sighing as they sat down, resting their heads back against the cushioned seats. They all welcomed the thought of a good, long sleep but their minds still swirled around the past twelve hours. The Thousand Dollar Dinner was over. 5

In the following days, the Philadelphia newspapers, to which had not escaped the event that made honor and respect to their city, wrote:

On Saturday evening, the 19th instant, thirty gentlemen sat down for a dinner at J.W.Parkinson's, South Eight, St. below Chestnut, which, for magnificence outvied anything ever seen in the United States.
- Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, April 1851


Perhaps the richest, most elegant, elaborate and poetical entertainment ever gotten up in this country, was achieved in this city last week, by the accomplished confectioner and caterer James W.Parkinson.
American Courier, April 1851 


Here my long post ends, but I'm not leaving you without once again give expression to my enthusiasm for the 'historical novel', the result of an extensive and careful research, written in an engaging and charming style, which the sweet, adorable Becky, presented me as a gift you can conveniently purchase it HERE )




- picture 16 - cover of the book




I highly recommend its reading, if you fancy a trip to the Victorian Philadelphia and amongst the culinary secrets of the then famous cookbooks - who have much to teach us today - and the skilled chefs of those years who treasured them.

I sincerely thank you, my dear friends and readers, for taking me this far in reading this exciting first gastronomic challenge of History, supported by the quotations of the inviting book which has kept me company in the past few days, pleasantly making me particapate to an event still I didn't know ....




I heartily thank you, Becky




- picture 17





and thanks to all of you, as well !


See you soon 












BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES:

Becky Libourel Diamond, The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge, Westholme Publishing, Yardley, Pennsylvania, October 28, 2015; 

WIKIPEDIA.



QUOTATIONS: 

1 - Becky Libourel Diamond, The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge, Westholme Publishing, Yardley, Pennsylvania, October 28, 2015, page XVII; 

2 - Ibidem, page IX; 

3 - Ibid. page XI; 

4 - Ibid. page XVII; 

5 e 6 - Ibid. page 165.




SHARING WITH:



64 commenti:

  1. Liebe Dany,

    wenn ich deinen Blog besuche, dann bin ich sofort in eine andere Zeit versetzt.Die Zeit der Romantik. Ich denke an Schubert und an Novalis, der die blaue Blume suchte, an Heinrich Heine und Johannes Brahms. Diese Romantik, in der man für die unerfüllte Liebe noch sterben wollte, die Zeit der Melancholie und des Versagens. Ich sehe Frauen die sich emanzipieren und eine Rachel von Varnhagen die in ihrem Salon mit den Geistesgrößen ihrer Zeit angeregte Unterhaltung führte.
    Ach dein Blog ist so heiter, es ist wie ein Kokon aus einer anderen Zeit der dich einhüllt und du wirst weit fortgetragen und träumst dich weit weg.
    Dir ist die perfekte Illusion gelungen, alles Liebe Barbara

    RispondiElimina
    Risposte
    1. @ Barbara
      my darling, I'm answering you in English to let more people understand what we're saying, hoping, with this, not to displease you (Ich liebe Deutsch sprechen und schreiben, aber zu wenige Leute kennen es, leider !)

      I'm so delighted and honoured by your words, you compares my blog to a place where something belonging to another time comes back to its life, with a sort of magic which I'd be able to do, or to a dream that I'd be able to carry you inside ... well, these words sound like such a beautiful music to me, I'd truly love to create such illusion ... they bless my soul and brighten this cold evening of mine ... I thank you with all my heart, while wishing you most wonderful days ever !

      With much, much love and thankfulness ~ Mit viel, viel Liebe und Dankbarkeit ❥

      Elimina
  2. This would have been so wonderful to attend, but how come only men???
    Another great post, Dany.
    I so enjoy visiting you here.
    Thank you, sweet friend. xo.

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Lisa
      wonderful friend of mine, you know that in the Victorian Age women were the 'Angels at Hearth', they had to think about householding and growing children, this was their life, which there was no chance for 'worldly pleasures' in !

      So very glad to have entertained you with a topic you enjoyed, I wish you all my best for the remainder of your week, dearie, sending you sweet, dear hugs ♡ஐ♡

      Elimina
  3. It's probably lucky I wasn't living in those times, unless I was a farm girl. It's all so fancy. - Margy

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Margy
      well, first of all you're a woman, and so you couldn't take part to such frivolous things, even if you hadn't been a farm girl, that's sure ... these were things granted to MEN ONLY {{smiles}} !

      Sending blessings of joy on the remainder of your week,
      with so much love ಌ❀ಌ

      Elimina
  4. An amazing dinner, my dear Dany! I cannot imagine 17 courses and it is no wonder it took 12 hours to consume! So many famous people there - lovely vintage images. Thank you for sharing this little slice of history. Sending hugs and blessings to you. xo Karen

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Karen
      sweetest, loving friend, I'm so grateful to you, your enjoyment means so much to me, it's the biggest, most precious prize I could ever wish, I'm always in high spirits when you come and visit me here, dearest one !

      Have a remainder of your week blessed with joy and serenity you too,
      my Lovely Lady ⊰♥⊱

      Elimina
  5. Certo è che a questo punto ho l'acquolina in bocca:)) Regalerò il libro a mio marito, amante del cibo in tutti i sensi...
    Grazie per questa bella storia. Un abbraccio cara Dany e che la tua settimana sia gioiosa e ricca come sempre.

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ WOODY
      dolcissima amica, sono certa che tuo marito apprezzerà questa lettura, mentre leggi ti sembra quasi di essere seduta a tavola tra gli altri commensali, io l'ho trovato davvero splendido ... poi mi dirai se anche lui ha gradito leggerlo !

      Ti abbraccio con il cuore contraccambiando sinceramente il meraviglioso augurio ... un grande bacio ✿≫*≪✿

      Elimina
  6. What a night that must have been! :-) Can you imagine consuming that much food, at one time? Even just some of each, would have added up to a lot! :-)

    And alllllll those many wines! Heaven!!!!

    Again, thank you for introducing us to another delightful fact, from history.

    Gentle Spring hugs,
    Tessa

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Tessa
      marvellous friend of mine, I'm always so delighted to welcome you here, your sweetness fills my heart with such a joy !

      May the remainder of your week be blessed with love,
      sending hugs to you with boundless gratitude ⊰✽♡✽⊱

      Elimina
  7. Such a great post, dear Daniela! Thank you so much for sharing.

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Linda
      what a blessing to have you here, dearie, what a wonderful gift to me !

      Thanking you most sincerely, I wish you all my best for your days to come,
      take care ಌ•❤•ಌ

      Elimina
  8. ma che bella storia..ogni volta che leggo un tuo post, mi perdo tra le parole e sogno ...atmosfere di eleganza e bellezza!!!! grazie per quello che ci doni ogni volta, ti auguro una serata gioiosa e ti abbraccio fortissimo Lory

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Lory
      carissima, sono io ad esserti grata per tutto ciò di cui mi fai dono, qui e sul tuo splendido blog !

      Che l'amore sia con te ... sempre ...
      Ti abbraccio con tanto affetto ஐღஐ

      Elimina
  9. What a very fascinating story. Thank you for introducing us to the author and her work. I have this book on my "wish" list on Amazon now. The menu is extraordinary! Especially the wines and spirits that were chosen to complement each course. I can believe that it took 12 hours to complete. I would have to take a nap in between some of the offerings, though. All that wine would make me sleepy!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Cynthia
      honestly, just all that food, without wines, would have been enough to me to be very sleepy ... that would have been a challenge for me too !!!
      Probably wealthy men were accustomed to that kind of life, to eat and drink so much, at that time ...
      Your amusement and interest mean so much to me, dearest one, I thank you with all my heart !

      Have a remainder of your week filled with joy and wonder,
      sending love to you across the many miles ❀≼♥≽❀

      Elimina
  10. Grazie a te, cara Dany, che hai curato con voce fresca,
    un racconto di ieri, rivelandosi incredibilmente attualissimo.
    Un post incantevole,grazie splendida amica,mi fai sognare.
    Ti abbraccio con tanta ammirazione e stima e ti auguro una lieta serata.
    La tua amica Luci@

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Lucia
      che incanto leggere le te parole !

      Contraccambio con immensa gratitudine e con tutto il cuore il tuo graditissimo abbraccio, mia cara, carissima, amica, e che questa settimana che sta ormai volgendo al termine sia prodiga di gioia per te ❥

      Elimina
  11. Non finisci di sorprendermi, di approfondire il mio sapere, ed ora mi porti a conoscenza anche di questo libro, che m'incuriosisce non poco. Sei una incredibile fonte cara Daniela, spazi in ogni campo e racconti con dovizia di particolari.....splendida tu! Un abbraccio affettuoso a te, e l'augurio di un fine settimana splendido. Paola

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Paola
      mia dolce, sono più che certa che questo libro sia fatto proprio per te ... e come sempre quando leggo le tue parole di elogio, che mi toccano il cuore, ammutolisco ... !

      Con riconoscenza sincera ti auguro una meravigliosa giornata, carissima,
      e che la vita ti sorrida sempre ༺❀༻

      Elimina
  12. bellissimo questo tuo post come sempre....complimenti!
    un abbraccio grande simona:)

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ simona
      sei sempre gentilissima e così cara !

      Ti auguro una bellissima giornata, dolce amica,
      grazie di cuore ♡❤♡

      Elimina
  13. They certainly don't do things like they used to, Dany. It's probably a good thing, I don't think our waist lines could take it. Great, interesting post..Happy Wednesday..Judy

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Judy
      they were so different times ... so different in everything !
      I'm sincerely overjoyed to read you've enjoyed this writing of mine, sweet friend, thank you so much !

      May your day be blessed with gladness,
      ⊰♥⊱ sending love to you ⊰♥⊱

      Elimina
  14. Ma grazie a te cara Dany, per averci raccontato tutto ciò. Il libro mi incuriosisce davvero!
    Un grande abbraccio Susanna

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Susanna
      deliziosa amica mia, sai, credo che piacerebbe molto anche a te questa lettura, davvero !

      Grazie di cuore, carissima, per la gioia che sempre porti qui e che la tua settimana si concluda in serenità, te lo auguro sinceramente, con affetto e riconoscenza ✿⊱╮

      Elimina
  15. I wonder how it is posible to eat 17 courses!!! Amazing dinner party even if it is so far from the current customs and healthy diets.
    Thank you Dany for an interesting post <3

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ riitta
      I'm so grateful to you for enjoyng this reading (17 courses are really far too many, aren't they ?), it's such a lovely gift to me, dearest one !

      Enjoy the remainder of your week, precious friend of mine,
      sending much, so much love to you ༺♡❀♡༻

      Elimina
  16. An incredible story you have shared Dani! I enjoyed reading every detail about such an amazing event, that I've never heard of! Always a joy to visit you here! Do come and visit me when you can at my little blog space, I'm so happy to have made your acquaintance... such lovely pieces of history you share here! Have a blessed day!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ SpicingUpIdaho
      of course I come and visit you, my beloved friend, I think your posts to be so enthralling and beautiful !
      Thank you for your wonderful words, of amusement and of appreciation, bringing so much joy to me !

      May the remainder of your week be blessed with joy, dearie,
      sending you love and hugs, with sincere gratitude ⊰✽∗♥∗✽⊱

      Elimina
  17. This is fascinating! Yet another piece of our history I've never heard of and wow! Can you imagine getting that kind of ovation as a chef? Once again, thanks for finding this wonderful, offbeat story to share!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Jeanie
      it's me, who have to thank you, and to thank you with much gladness, your words fill my heart, truly !
      Your amusement, curiosity, involvement in what I write, are the most wonderful acknowledgment I could ever wish, and I'm so grateful to you for this all, wonderful friend of mine !

      Thinking of you with so much joy,
      I wish you a most beautiful remainder of your week ♡❤♡

      Elimina
  18. Wonderful story. What an incredible time to live in.
    I have been to the Delmonico's on 2 William Street.
    And I know very well these locations including Amboy, Camden, etc.
    Knowing these locations brings it alive for me!
    Thank you for another great piece of history Dear Dany~
    Hugs

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ annie
      actually I was awaiting a comment like this, coming from a friend living in the States, for Delmonico's activity is still alive and well established ... I know what it means, to see something today and to think about its history in the past, it's so very exciting to me ... and it is for you too, as I've just read, thank you, wonderful friend of mine, thank you with all my heart, you truly brighten my day !

      May your weekend be filled with joy and love,
      wishing you all the best,
      thinking of you with sincere friendship, love and gratitude ♥∗✿≫✿≪✿∗♥

      Elimina
  19. Another amazing post! Thank you! We were in Paris yesterday and it calls to mind the foods we ate on tour. Thank you! Wishing you a grand weekend!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Cathy
      I wholeheartedly thank you for your words of appreciation, my dear friend, I wonder how amazing your tour was !

      Enjoy your weekend you too, sweetie,
      *♥* sending much love to you *♥*

      Elimina
  20. Che meraviglia stare qui a leggere allietata dalla dolcissima musica di sottofondo del tuo romantico blog. Anche oggi mi hai donato spensieratezza attraverso questo curioso ed incantevole viaggio culinario nell' epoca vittoriana. Grazie dolce amica!
    Bacioni
    Alessandra

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Alessandra
      grazie a te dolcissima amica, le tue parole allietano questa mia serata e la colmano di tanta gioia !

      Ti abbraccio con il cuore augurandoti una splendida serata ed un inizio di settimana all'insegna della serenità più profonda,
      con affetto e riconoscenza ஐღஐ

      Elimina
  21. Hello dany, great post and information. This thousand dollar dinner sounds amazing. The chef must have been very proud of this event. I do wonder where the women were at the time. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Eileen
      I think that the chef wold have never forgotten such a event which gave him such a prominence even in front to the New Yorkers, indeed, I'm sure of it !
      As for the women, probably they were all at home, or maybe the men were all bachelors, the History doesn't tell us about it ...

      Hope that your weekend is ending in the better of ways, I wish you so much joy and wonder for the days to come, marvellous friend of mine,
      sending love and blessings to you ❀≼♥≽❀

      Elimina
  22. How totally fascinating! I can hardly comprehend such a banquet and such cost nowadays! I had read before of the fame of Delmonico's but all the information you share is amazing!
    Thank you for taking the time to share this!
    Enjoy your weekend!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Christine
      you know that I'm very fascinated by everything curios in History, an this banquet, which I had the opportunity to know about, thanks to the lovely friend Becky Diamond's book, well, it feed so much my love and my passion for researches and for study !
      I'm so overjoyed to read in your words your participation and your enjoyment ... is there a most wonderful gift ???

      Hoping you spent your weekend with joy, I wish you a most wonderful new week ahead, my Lovely Lady,
      with sincere gratitude and love ✿⊱╮

      Elimina
  23. My goodness, Dany, I can't begin to imagine a 12-hour dinner -- unless those 12 hours included two or three long naps! With 17 courses, I would only be able to handle about two bites of each.

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Jean
      you're so skilled in the art of cooking and surely you may understand such effort for Mr.Parkinson !
      As for taking part to such a banquet, I also wouldn't have been able to eat more than you, maybe less !

      With heartfelt thankfulness I wish you a most beautiful week ahead, precious friend of mine,
      sending hugs and more hugs to you ❥

      Elimina
  24. Dany, what a grand supper! I am amazed to watch chefs at work. Their food looks more like art than it does a meal.

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Gina
      my darling friend, as you say, at this level, cooking becomes certainly art, also if we think that Victorian dishes were decorated as we cannot even imagine !

      Sending blessing on your new week, sweetie
      thinking of you with love and thankfulness ♡❤♡

      Elimina
  25. Wow what an undertaking that must have been for the chef to take on such an event. I can't imagine sitting for that long with eating and drinking and the poor chef to be cooking that whole time. To have them all applaud his food must have been worth it I imagine! I wonder if there has ever been since a banquet like that? I can only think that it was the only one with so many courses and lasted that long. Another very interesting post Dany! Hope you have a most wonderful weekend!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Connie
      thank you for gracing my blog with your presence and with your so lovely words of enthusiasm and curiosity, Marvellous Lady !

      Hoping you had a relaxing and serene weekend,
      I wish you all my best for the days to come,
      sending blessings of joy and love to you ✿⋰♥⋱✿

      Elimina
  26. Dear Daniela,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful post - as others have said they really do not do things like that anymore.
    I always enjoy the cooking shows where they replicate a dinner back in the day. All the courses at the banquet must have been amazing.
    Hope you are enjoying the weekend dear friend and many thanks for the kind visit and note you left me.
    Happy Sunday and enjoy the new week
    hugs
    Carolyn

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Carolyn
      you're always a blessing to me, my sweetest friend, your visits and your words always put me in high spirits, I'm so grateful to you for this !

      I wish you too so much love for the days to come,
      sending blessings and dear hugs to you across the many miles ღ❀ღ

      Elimina
  27. This must have been an evening to remember, Dany, thanks for bringing us the story. So many courses!
    Amalia
    xo

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Amalia
      my joyful friend, you always bring here your cheerfulness, dearest one !
      Thank you for enjoying this post of mine, I'm always so delighted to have you here !

      With much, so much gratitude,
      I wish you a most lovely new week ever, sweetie,
      sending love and dear hugs to you ⊰✽♡✽⊱

      Elimina
  28. That must have been an amazing dinner ... 17 courses, oh my !
    Thanks for sharing another interesting story, Dany !
    Have a nice evening ... and new week !
    Hugs to you sweet friend,
    Sylvia

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Sylvia
      I'm always overjoyed to welcome you here, adorable friend, your grace and your elegance are one of the most beautiful gift for ~ My little old world ~ !

      With heartfelt gratitude,
      I wish you a most wonderful week ahead, darling,
      *♥* sending love big hugs to you *♥*

      Elimina
  29. I can't even imagine. I certainly would have been busting out of my britches if I had sat through all those courses. This was an interesting post. Have a blessed Sunday!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Terri
      I'm welcoming you with a dear, gentle hugs, my sweet friend, it's always such a gladness to me to read your words !

      I wish you so much love for the days to come, darling,
      sending blessings and dear hugs to you across the many miles,
      with sincere thankfulness ∗⊱༺♡❀♡༻⊰∗

      Elimina
  30. Hello Dany,

    I am still wondering how these folks managed a 17 course dinner and all in 12 hours. That is incredible.
    I have heard of Del Monico's opulent dinners and splendor but did not know about the 17 course dinner. Those days and times are hard to imagine today. Such grandeur and opulence.

    Thank you sweet friend for your time and teachings. Wishing you a wonderful Easter.

    Janet

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Janet
      actually the banquet took place at Philadelphia at Parkinson's to 'reply' to that which was given a few months before at Delmonico's ... anyway, as you say, my darling friend, so many things have changed since then, such an opulence today is not so very common, but we're glad to read and to learn about such stunning, incredible events which leave us in awe, don't they ?
      History has always something with which to amaze us that's why I do love it !

      Sending much love for wishing you a serene Holy Week,
      with heartfelt gratitude ಌ•❤•ಌ

      Elimina
  31. Oh my, what an incredible tale, my friend! 17 courses! I simply cannot imagine :) But I must admire the time they took to have a meal with friends as they did not rush things and enjoyed each other's company.

    Once again, you have enchanted me, dear Dany :) Thank you for being YOU! How you make me smile. Love and hugs to you!

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Stephanie
      at that age we seem that life had another ... time, that there was much more time for everyone and for everything and that convivial moments were much more welcome than today, that's another reason why I do love that era with all my heart !

      Sending blessings of peace to you, precious friend of mine,
      may your Holy Week be filled with serenity ✿⊱╮

      Elimina
  32. A sumptuous banquet, indeed, Dany! It had to be the talk of society for months to come. Imagine a 12 hour culinary event. Amazing. Thanks for sharing, my friend. Hugs, Nancy

    RispondiElimina
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    1. @ Nancy
      I read your words of enjoyment with such a delight, my wonderful friend, thank you, thank you most sincerely !

      I wish you all my best for today and for the days to come, in the hope to meet you again before than Easter for the wishes ❀≼♥≽❀

      Elimina

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY THANK YOU FOR YOUR THOUGHTS AND WORDS, SO PRECIOUS TO ME.