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250th Anniversary All College Dinner combines the best of Colonial fare and French cuisine

For the Marquis de Lafayette’s 250th All College Dinner Sept. 6, Dining Services has cooked up a feast fit for common Colonial peasants, American Revolutionary War soldiers, the French upper class, and even the Marquis.

The dinner is part of the Marquis’ birthday party, which is the event kicking off the College’s yearlong celebration in recognition of the life and legacy of the man for whom it is named. In addition to the party, major events will include a lecture series, entitled Lives of Liberty, featuring renowned speakers, and a historical exhibit at the Williams Center for the Arts, entitled A Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington.

  • A web site dedicated to the celebration and to the Marquis’ unique connection to the College provides information and updates.
  • Sept. 6 All College Dinner Menu.

Starting at 5:30 p.m. on the Quad, the All College Dinner will be provided for the enjoyment of Lafayette students, faculty, and staff. All other campus dining facilities will be closed from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The meal will combine the theme of the Revolutionary War with the influence of the Marquis de Lafayette. The result is a meal of hearty Colonial fare along with French desserts and birthday cake.

“The menu evolved. It morphed four or five times until it reached its final state,” says Joseph Binotto, general manager of Dining Services. Binotto says the Dining Services team had fun developing the menu, but also did extensive research which included a trip to Colonial Williamsburg to explore the types of food served there.

The menu consists of foods that were popular at the time and that were readily available. The military and Colonial citizens would have eaten foods that were growing nearby or game that they could hunt. Their food would also be cooked in more basic ways, such as over a fire, so the menu tries to capture these styles. The result is a smorgasbord for the taste buds.

For the dinner, the Quad will be divided into four sections. In each section, a station will provide a feast for both the mouth and the eyes.

One station will feature pit-roasted Virginia ham, cheddar cheese, grilled sausages, and hearty stew. A second will provide vegetarian choices including white beans and corn, which would have been easily available in colonial times, as well pickled vegetables, a style of preservation that was popular at the time. Baked cottage pies, “seafood muddle” or stew, and “estouffade of beef” will be available at another station. The last section will provide apple cider and sweet & tart lemonade served from wooden kegs.

The food variety demonstrates the history of the time, such as the use of heavy spices on some dishes as the result of trade with the West Indies. Executive chef Michael Kramlich found several ways to incorporate typical Colonial fare with hints of French cuisine, such as the use of Dijon mustard dressing and Duchess potatoes.

A dessert station will allow for a display of French delicacies. A chef will flamb� cherries with brandy to be served over ice cream. A number of other pastry and cream desserts will be served, including chocolate tarts with shaved chocolate, kirsch puffs with rose’ fondant, and blueberry Bavarian cream. There will also be a ceremonial birthday cake for the Marquis and birthday sheet cakes for those who prefer a more traditional dessert.

Dining Services is also working hard to present the food in period appropriate vessels. The stews will be served in cauldron-like pots, cast iron skillets will be used, and silver platters will present the French desserts. The wood of the table will even be made to appear as though it would be appropriate in any Revolutionary War camp.

The staff working to serve the food will also dress in period costumes. Some men will appear as military officers, some ladies as French provincial women, and other waiters will dress as common Colonial men and women.

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