Louisville Uncovered presents a fresh episode: “Benedictine Uncovered”
Benedictine, is a spread made with cucumbers and cream cheese, was invented near the beginning of the 20th century by Jennie Carter Benedict (1860–1928), a caterer, restaurateur and cookbook author in Louisville, Kentucky. After attending Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School, she built a 256-square-foot kitchen with a 48-square-foot pantry in her backyard in 1893 (with no running water!) for what she thought was an excessive $316.85 so she could better serve her catering clientele.
Watch the story, now, “Uncovered” here:
In 1900, “Miss Jennie” opened a restaurant and tea room called Benedict’s, on South 4th Street in downtown Louisville., It was during her catering period when she invented and originally served benedictine.
Benedict’s cook books are still being sold a century after they were first published. For example, her The Blue Ribbon Cook Book, which first published in 1902, has been reprinted numerous times and most recently in 2008. Although early editions of this book do not contain a recipe for the spread, the most recent edition does.
The Blue Ribbon Cook Book contains more than four hundred timeless recipes, from breads and sauces to entrees and desserts, which highlight classic fare from the Bluegrass. In addition, the book includes more than ten pages of sample menus for simple luncheons and formal and informal dinners.
Although benedictine is rarely seen in restaurants outside the state of Kentucky, it has been written about in articles in national publications such as the Garden and Gun Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, and Saveur Magazine, and also reported about on multimedia outlets such as the Food Network and NPR.
A benedictine-based sandwich was featured on the Food Network’s 50 States 50 Sandwiches program in 2012, on the television shows of celebrity chefs Paula Deen and Damaris Phillips, and in Southern Living magazine as one of June’s “2011 Best Recipes” for their corresponding issue.
Benedict’s restaurant in Louisville is the setting for much of Annie Fellows Johnston and the Little Colonel Stories,
Chapter IV, “Mary Ware’s Promised Land,” in “The Little Colonel Maid of Honor,”published in 1906:
“As he led the way out to the street and hailed a passing car, he explained why Lloyd had not come in to meet them, adding, “Your train was two hours late, so I telephoned out to Mrs. Sherman that we would have lunch in town. I’ll take you around to Benedict’s.”
Mary had never eaten in a restaurant before, so it was with an inward dread that she might betray the fact that she followed Joyce and Rob to a side-table spread for three. In her anxiety to do the right thing she watched her sister like a hawk, copying every motion, till they here safely launched on the first course of their lunch. Then she relaxed her watchfulness long enough to take a full breath and look at some of the people to whom Rob had bowed as they entered.”