Booker T. Washington Honoree Banquet
January 21, 1901
New York City
This menu comes from a dinner held a literary club honoring educator Booker T. Washington. The event was hosted by “The Outlook,” a weekly magazine that published his autobiographical essays that were now being published as a book, Up from Slavery (1901). The theme dishes tell parts of Washington’s life story. The consommé is named after Hampton College where he was educated, and the grapefruit after the Tuskegee Institute which he established in Alabama in 1881. The entrée called “chicken à la Kanawha log cabin” recalls his childhood home in West Virginia, where Washington and his family moved after emancipation. The ginger cakes served for dessert were symbolic of freedom. Washington recounted in his autobiography how, as a young slave, he watched two of his young mistresses and their visitors eat ginger cakes. “At that time those cakes seemed to me to be absolutely the most tempting and desirable things that I had ever seen,” he wrote, “and I then and there resolved that, if I ever got free, the height of my ambition would be reached if I could get to the point where I could secure and eat ginger cakes in the way that I saw those ladies doing.” Washington signed this menu on the cover.