Supreme Court History ~ A Little Supreme Lunch ~ Shrimp, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad

Article III of the Constitution established the legislative branch of government in 1789.  The Judiciary Act of 1789 spelled out the court system and set the number of Supreme Court justices at 6.  In 1801, it changed to 5.  Up to 7  in 1807.  Up to 9 in 1837.  Up to 10 in 1863.  Down to 9 in 1869.  Why all the changes?  According to Supreme Court History it had to do with changeing levels of population.  I’m not so sure about that.  At any rate, that history website is pretty cool.

The recent announcement by Justice John Paul Stevens that he is retiring at the end of the Court’s current session sent me on a little trip through the internet to learn more about him.  It surprised me to learn that he was appointed by President Gerald Ford.  I also found it interesting that he was born into a wealthy Chicago family.  Justice Stevens’ father built two hotels in Chicago: the La Salle (which no longer exists) and what is now the Chicago Hilton.

What in the world do Supreme Court justices eat?  I have no idea.  There is a cafeteria near the Supreme Court building named … the Supreme Court Cafeteria.  Doubt they eat there very often.  I couldn’t find a report of a restaurant being in the building.  Perhaps some of you out there more familiar with DC can enlighten me.  The Supreme Court Historical Society (linked above) does host black-tie dinners.  Unfortunately, there are no menus posted that I could find.  Yet.

So … what to eat while learning more about the highest court in the land?  Have you ever heard the culinary term supreme?  It’s a fancy way for describing cutting citrus fruit into seconds.  It’s pretty self-explanatory, but you can see how it’s done right here.

Let’s have a little lunch (or brunch) with supremes of grapefruit.  I found this recipe in a magazine (don’t remember which one), and have changed it up to suit my palate.


18 large shrimp, cooked (either sauteed, boiled, or roasted), peeled with tails left on

1 or 2 heads of butter lettuce (depending on how big they are)

3 avocados, peeled, pitted &; sliced into 1″ thick wedges

2 pink grapefruit, supremed (do it over a bowl to save the juice)

Thinly shaved slices of red onion or shallots

salad dressing:

grapefruit juice from the bowl

2 tsp. honey

a little minced cilantro and/or parsley

olive oil

First, cook the shrimp the way you like and let them cool.  Second, supreme the grapefruit.  Third, make the salad dressing.  Fourth, slice the avocados and sprinkle a touch of lemon juice or salad dressing on them so they don’t turn brown.

Now for assembly:  Put butter leaves on the plate.  Place shrimp on the plate, with their tails standing up.  Fan out some avocado slices.  Fan out some grapefruit slices.  Drizzle a bit of the dressing over everything.


Depending on whether you drink adult beverages or not, and whether you’re serving this as brunch or lunch, I recommend a Bloody Mary or Mimosa … you decide.