Camden County Dinosaur spacer Pomona Hall

Camden County Historical Society
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Modern History Buffs Meet 1780's Holiday Foods

Photography by Hoag Levins ... | ...December 8, 2008

CAMDEN, N.J. -- It was fine Maderia and the enveloping warmth and aromas of open-hearth cooking at a Christmas brunch for a group of friends of the Camden County Historical Society yesterday. "There are many ways to appreciate history," said executive director Linda Gentry. "You can read it. You can watch it. But today, we're eating it."

The fundraiser featured a hearth-cooked meal of 18th century foods served in the large dining room of Pomona Hall, the Society's restored 1780s mansion. Above, right, professional hearth cook Mercy Ingraham explains the logistics of open-fire meal preparation. Above, left, a sideboard display of traditional holiday treats.

Authentic period Blue Willow Chinese export dinnerware (above, left) helped carry the historic theme on each of the three dining tables. The tureens were for pumpkin soup. Above, right, arranging the final settings are (left to right) Society president-elect Sandy Levins, docent Arielle L'Esperance and administrative assistant to the executive director, Joseph Sperlunto.

Hearth cook Mercy Ingraham (above, left) carves the main course of turkey roasted by the hearth fire. The food and cooking methods were the same used in this very kitchen 22 decades ago. Above, right, the finishing touches are put on a "Hedgehog." The almond paste and sugar treat was made in accordance to a recipe in the 1747 cookbook, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse.

In the late 1700s, Pomona Hall was the home of Marmaduke Cooper, the region's wealthiest man. Each year, its rooms are decorated for Christmas with traditional materials like pineapples, evergreen boughs and strings of winter berries. In the living room (above, right) a tea table is set with period accoutrements and a traditional Christmas pudding.

Twenty guests were seated in the main dining room to savor the foods and historical ambiance of a leisurely holiday feast in this historic setting.

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> See a Previous Year's Pomona Hall Holiday Festivities