National Geographic : 1966 Sep
Dinners "half Virginian, half French," as Daniel Webster noted, came from Monticel lo's kitchen. Virginia ham and corn pudding might share the table with poulet marengo and blancmange, prepared according to recipes Jefferson brought from France. Jefferson's birthday party brings a candle lit dinner every year for the Thomas Jeffer son Memorial Foundation, which preserves Monticello. The foundation tries to hold the dinner as close as possible to the Virginian's birthday, April 13th. Mrs. Leonard Tilman, chief hostess at Monticello, lights the tapers. Once again laughter and conviviality will fill the house where Jefferson delighted in entertaining such guests as Madison, Lafay ette, and Webster. The brilliance of their host once prompted President John F. Ken nedy to remark at a White House dinner for American Nobel Prize winners that the President's Mansion had not seen so talented a gathering since Jefferson dined there alone. Wine at his fingertips: Jefferson's dumb waiters, among the first in America, occupy each side of his dining-room mantelpiece. Returning from France a connoisseur, Jef ferson often advised his friends George Washington and James Monroe on choice vintages. "No nation is drunken," he said, "where wine is cheap; and none sober, when the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as a common beverage."