New Supreme Court cookbook dishes up history and recipes


Associated Press

WASHINGTON — At Christmastime, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor would send her colleagues gift-wrapped packages of homemade beef jerky from her family’s cattle ranch in Arizona. Her colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg pronounced it “very spicy.”

Now, home chefs can try making their own, with guidance from O’Connor’s supplier, her brother. His jerky-making instructions, minus the family’s secret sauce, are part of a new book on the Supreme Court’s food traditions. “Table for 9: Supreme Court Food Traditions & Recipes,” out this month, is part history book, part cookbook. It includes more than three dozen recipes associated with justices and their families.

“Food in good company has sustained Supreme Court Justices through the ages,” Ginsburg writes in the book’s forward.

Food is a way the court’s nine justices connect. There are welcome dinners for new justices and retirement dinners for those who are departing. O’Connor, the court’s first female justice, revived a tradition of the justices regularly eating lunch together. And when a justice has a birthday, there is wine, a toast and the singing of “Happy Birthday,” a tradition begun by Chief Justice Warren Burger, who led the court in the 1970s and ’80s.

Clare Cushman, the book’s author, says her offering is in part a response to visitors asking at the Supreme Court’s gift shop whether the court had a cookbook. The White House visitor center’s gift shop has several books on food and entertaining, and some tourists expected the court would too, said Cushman, the Supreme Court Historical Society’s director of publications. So, for a decade, when Cushman came across a recipe or a food anecdote with a link to a justice, she’d put it in a folder.

“The more I researched the more I realized that this was a really substantial topic and that it wasn’t going to be fluffy or ridiculous to ask these extremely distinguished judges questions like: What are your favorite foods and what do you eat for lunch?” Cushman said.