HOST YOUR OWN SMITH SUPPER
Adam Smith had a penchant for peppering many of his analogies with references to food, beer, wine and liquor, and he had a fondness for enjoying great meals and a fine bottle of claret here at Panmure House. At his famous ‘Sunday Suppers’ - an enlightenment version of French salons - writers and honoured guests of the day were able to gather, debate and exchange ideas.
In this hearty spirit, we invite you to join us in a toast to Adam Smith by hosting your very own Smith Supper; the perfect way to honour this most influential of Scottish thinkers, wherever you may be.
We have devised this DIY Smith Supper Guide to help you and your guests create an authentically Smithian evening of dining and entertainment.
We would love to know about your dinner. Share photos of your spread, your company and your costumes using the hashtag #AdamSmith300 and tag @AdamSmithHouse on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM
WHAT IS A SMITH SUPPER?
A Smith Supper is an occasion to mark the birth of one of Scotland’s most famous sons and to celebrate the ways in which his work continues to make an impact on the globe.
WHEN IS A SMITH SUPPER HELD?
Smith Suppers are held on or around 5 June – the anniversary of Adam Smith’s baptism in 1723. Whilst his birth date is not definitively recorded, it is widely accepted that it would be on or near this date.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A SMITH SUPPER?
Each Smith Supper is unique and can be tailored to your guests and venue. We recommend, however, including some historically inspired components in homage to Smith’s life and work.
'Nothing is more graceful than habitual cheerfulness'
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments Part I Section II Chapter V
Menu Cards & Table Dressings
Consider Smith’s quote from The Theory of Moral Sentiments, that 'we are but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it; and that when we prefer ourselves so shamefully and so blindly to others, we become the proper objects of resentment, abhorrence, and execration.' How far do your guests agree with this assessment of society?
Or perhaps you could ponder why, if at all, 'The desire of the approbation and esteem of those we live with, which is of such importance to our happiness, cannot be fully and entirely contented but by rendering ourselves the just and proper objects of those sentiments, and by adjusting our own character and conduct according to those measures and rules by which esteem and approbation are naturally bestowed.'
You can choose from our curated list on our website below.
For the musical afficionados, a classical evening of Bach and Handel is bound to please. Alternatively, consider hiring a piper, or indeed, if any of your number is a talented violinist, invite them to play a short tune.
Getting dressed, particularly for ladies, required a servant and considerable time to spare. Your guests may feel more comfortable in modern evening attire. However, if you and your guests are willing, dressing for the occasion in enlightenment styles could make for a memorable and Instagramable evening.
From incorporating a simple hair accessory to hiring a full suit or gown, there are many dressing options for your guests to choose from.
games and debate
To get your guests thinking as well as talking, consider the following prompts to allow ideas to flow - along with the aid of a fine wine!
- Make place cards for your guests
- Write one idea on each place card,
- Select guests at will to read aloud an idea and state their viewpoint, before opening this to the floor.
If your guests grow weary of intense debate, this 18th century parlour game may prove the ideal wind down. Known contemporarily as “Mitten”, guests must take it in turns to complete tasks of your choosing whilst wearing a thick set of mittens or gloves for the fire.
The fastest accomplice is the winner!
The poetry of Robert Fergusson, a contemporary of Smith and inspiration to Robert Burns, would be evocative of Smith’s life and era.
Informative excerpts from Dugald Stuart, Smith’s first biographer, could be intriguing, or lead with some quotes from the man himself.
Toasting can be seen as a mini performance, one that requires facing the chance of achieving great success, or stumbling over what you say. No doubt a toast requires practicing the art of oratory.
- Start with your choice of beverage, then let people know they need to be ready for a toast.
- Ask them to “charge” their glasses, meaning to refill them to be able to drink after the toast is complete.
- Open your toast with a little phrase that lets everyone know you plan to make a toast. Consider following the 18th-century ritual of beginning with the words: “Pray, raise your glass…”
- Make a short statement sharing your thoughts and feelings about the group and the event.
- Use Smith quotes or readings that are relevant.
The body of the toast can be laudatory, inciteful, challenging, thankful, or even humorous. Finally, decide how you want to end your toast, for example: Raise your glass in tribute, "Smith said…" and then use a suitable quote.
suggested Running order
The host or master/mistress of ceremonies begins by welcoming the guests to the meal, perhaps reciting a reading as recommended above.
As debates no doubt heat up, the three-course meal can be served, followed by games, song and recital.
At the end of the night, the host should give thanks to the guests, and perhaps offer further food for thought with a wise quote from Adam Smith to finish. Drinks can, of course, be served throughout the evening.
Food and Drink
The most obvious example of this is 'The Oyster Club' dinners which Smith and his friends attended at various locations around Edinburgh, including Panmure House.
Oysters were a quick and easy source of nutrition as they were readily available in the Firth of Forth. Alongside this there are accounts of Smith dining with Benjamin Franklin and his son in 1759.
Other accounts show both his love of sugar and strawberries and of course French claret, available at all taverns and vintners.
You can read recipes and ideas below to assist you in constructing your perfect Smith Supper menu.