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A Dinner Inspired By The World's Fair At The Atwood Cafe

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 14, 2013 3:30PM

Most Chicagoans know about the Ferris Wheel, the White City and (thanks to Erik Larson) the assassination of Chicago's mayor. What most people don't realize is that a true highlight of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition was the banquets. At least for food history geeks, the zillions of special meals, menus and fetes that awaited dignitaries and regular guests alike are one of the coolest parts of World's Fair history. Last night at The Atwood Cafe, Chef Derek Simcik created an inspired take on one of those old banquet menus.

In an event co-sponsored by the Chicago History Museum, the World's Fair was brought to life through food. While Simcik didn't literally recreate the menu from the President's visit to the opening of the World's Fair, he took bits and pieces of the menu as inspiration. So instead of lobster croquettes with french peas or sweet breads in tomato sauce (two original dishes) he combined the two into a dish of butter-poached lobster, sweetbreads, tomato sauce and ash. He riffed on the opening relish tray, which included oysters, cucumber and celery, by combining all three into one bite, and created a dessert that combined strawberries and cream with the tobacco from the mandatory after-dinner cigar. Along with the dinner, guests were treated to short lectures on the history of the fair, culminating in a world's fair history contest.

Dish descriptions are in the photo captions. Isn't history tasty?