As the Missouri Governor's Mansion turns 150 this year and the state celebrates its bicentennial, a delicious project is also hitting the shelves.
"A Spoonful of History: A Culinary Tour of Missouri and our Governor's Mansion," which began shipping in October, offers a culinary tour of Missouri and the Governor's Mansion in more than 240 pages of recipes, photographs and state history.
Rebecca Gordon, executive director of Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion, said it was their way of "telling the history of Missouri through food."
The cookbook features not only meals prepared at the Governor's Mansion but also regional foods from counties across the state. Along with the recipes, readers can get a taste of the history behind each dish and its state significance.
The idea was sparked in October 2019 when Missouri first lady Teresa Parson called the mansion team and Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion members together with an idea — to compile recipes along with state history and photos, not just at the mansion but from restaurants and chefs across the state.
Gordon said the number of cooks, team members and people who contributed to "A Spoonful of History" is almost innumerable.
"It took a small village, or a small city, you could say," Gordon laughed. "We wanted it to be beautiful. To see it come together has been great."
With Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion being the keepers of the mansion's history — which has been "triple and double sourced," Gordon said — they combined efforts with historians in their group to collect the background behind dishes.
They also sought guidance from the Missouri State Archives, the Missouri Wine and Grape Board and the first lady, who Gordon said was very involved in the process.
Some historical figures also lent a hand — George Washington Carver being one of them. His portrait not only hangs in the dining room of the Governor's Mansion, but his books and newsletters containing recipes also reside in the Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion archives. The group worked with the staff at the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri, to add historical relevance to his sweet potato croquette recipe.
Gordon said the goal was to make contemporary recipes that had state importance, where historic meals can be cooked with modern ingredients and tools, and the recipes can be used by cooks today.
"We wanted it to be accessible and interesting, where you can find those ingredients wherever you are in the state," she said, "and everything ties back to the state's history."
The cookbook might teach readers something new about Missouri.
A recipe from St. Charles includes history about Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and how St. Charles was the first state capital between 1821-26, Gordon said.
In the wine section, readers can learn about Missouri's bustling wine industry paired with dishes like trout with white wine sauce.
Gordon had many favorite moments in the yearlong compiling process, one being in February when the team had a day-long photo shoot to capture foods in full color for the cookbook. They also collected images of food from close to 50 regional restaurants.
"It was fun seeing the team come together and make what was in mind happen," Gordon said. "We've done cookbooks in the past, but especially over this very difficult year, it shows the resilience of Missourians throughout our 200-year history. We wanted it to highlight people all across the state and what they contribute."
She said the cookbook became a popular Christmas gift this year, and she is looking forward to seeing more reactions from people who have tried the recipes.
The benefits from the book funds will go toward repairing the carpet in the first floor of the Governor's Mansion, which has become a safety hazard for guests.
"A Spoonful of History: A Culinary Tour of Missouri and our Governor's Mansion" can be purchased at Carrie's Hallmark Shop in downtown Jefferson City, as well as on the State Historical Society of Missouri and Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion websites.