This past winter, I had the delicious joy of photographing a small dinner party of a rather unusual nature. Set against the backdrop of the Reverend Samuel Maxwell House in Warren, Rhode Island, the meal and its costume-clad engineers recreated what a well-to-do Rhode Island family might have served their guests in the 18th century. In the spirit of a lavish abundance of choice on the menu, three different kinds of meat were slowly cooked to perfection in a kitchen fireplace big enough to stand in, while a selection of ‘drunken fruits’ emerged from their month-long bath in brandy to counter the juicy, smoky meats’ flavor. A rich tapestry of side dishes cloaked each table, which was all but obscured by creamware serving platters by the time that guests were invited to take their seats. For dessert, cups of syllabub were prefaced by a demonstration of the creamy dish’s resiliency to being upended, and many a cheerful glass of elderflower champagne was had before the night was through.
These dinners are meticulously crafted by members of the Massasoit Historical Association just twice a year, with very limited seating open to the public by reservation.