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Positively Philadelphia: Celebrating Lafayette's Arrival in Colonial America

by Lauren Lipton

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Right now it is still crossing the Atlantic Ocean from France, but on June 25th a replica of the ship Hermione is scheduled to come up the Delaware River and dock in Philadelphia.

In 1780, the Marquis de Lafayette came to the New World on the original Hermione ("air-mee-ohn"), to  offer help to America during the Revolutionary War.

Now, chef Walter Staib (top photo), owner of Philadelphia's historic City Tavern, has been named culinary ambassador for the Hermione Voyage 2015.

Staib notes that food played a big part in this chapter of US history.

"When (Lafayette) first came here, he invited everybody from the Continental Congress, and  it was supposed to be a lunch.  The lunch became a dinner. Everyone just kept on eating.  In typical French fashion, no one was in a hurry.  There was a lot of good food and everybody just hung out," Staib says.

So, what did they eat?

"There was a lot of food.  Because it was in Philadelphia there would have been a lot of fish: oysters, fried oysters, crab claws, salmon, corn cakes, chicken, some meat.  Turkeys were very plentiful.  Fresh salads with asparagus, artichokes.  Many, many dishes."


staib_walter + hermione _prov
(In France, Walter Staib gets a look at the replica "Hermione" before its departure across the Atlantic to Philadelphia. Photo provided)


And even more food:  "A lot of baked goods and a lot of sweets.  We call it 'abunzana' -- a lot of variety of good food."

And there were a lot of  beverages, too, Staib adds:  "Madeira, ales, a lot of cider and cider-based drinks."  It was 1780, so no one worried about having too much cider and then driving home.  Although falling off your horse may have been a risk.

By all accounts it was a moment to remember.

Chef Staib is  not only organizing the food for the upcoming celebration in Philadelphia, but for others up and down the east coast as well.  This is all part of the tall ships celebration later this month.


Hear the expanded interview in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 16:44)...


And for this week, that's "Positively Philadelphia!"

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