The Battle of the Ironclad Chefs returns March 10 to The Mariners' Museum.
The unique event offers a competition between two markedly different Civil War-era cooks — a plantation slave and a Union cook on the deck of the USS Monitor — that would have been preparing food in the 1860s. The cook-off is a highlight of the Battle of Hampton Roads weekend March 9-11 commemorating when the two ironclad ships squared off 150 years ago.
Throughout the day, guests can watch the two cooks prepare their meals and learn about food preparation before the invention of refrigerators, electric ovens and microwaves. This portion of the day is free with museum admission.
At a ticketed event that begins at 5:30 p.m., the contest will be judged by Civil War historians and local food critics (I'll be among the panel). Participants then will be able to sample foods from the two menus.
This year's menu items that may have been served to enlisted men on the Monitor include bean soup, hardtack (biscuits made of flour, water and sometiumes salt) and plum pudding. The officers' menu includes beef roast with potatoes, carrots and mushrooms, oyster stew, crab cakes and peach cobbler. Grog was the beverage of choice.
Plantation fare includes Madeira ham, fricasseed eggs, sweet potatoes baked in wine and carrots dressed the Dutch way. Desserts will include Blanc Mange (sweetened milk pudding) and orange pudding, and beverages will inlcude Orgeat (milk flavored with almonds and cinnamon) and Barbados Lemon Punch.
Last year, the plantation worker took the prize with her menu of venison, grit cakes, ginger beer and other Southern fare.
Cost for the evening catererd event is $35 for museum members, $40 for non-members. Persons interested in attending should contact the museum at 757-591-7751.