Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fun With Culinary History

The New York Public Library has a neat crowd-sourcing project up in which volunteers are helping to transcribe the dishes offered on their collection of historic menus.

It's called What's on the Menu?
We're transcribing our historical restaurant menus, dish by dish, so that they can be searched by what people were actually eating. It's a big job so we need your help!
I spent some time with the menu at right this evening. It's from Friday, April 26, 1901. I found dishes like:
  • Broiled squab on toast, with lettuce, for 50 cents
  • Lobster a la Newburg, for 40 cents
  • Barbecued oysters or soft clams in shell, for 35 cents
I think its fascinating to think that my great-grandfather John Redmond Farrar, a lawyer and justice of the municipal court in New York City, might have eaten here. Or maybe another great-grandfather, Augustus Charles Becker, described later by his son-in-law, my grandfather Redmond Farrar, as "a very imposing and good-looking man, over six feet tall, and very aristocratic in his bearing," might have eaten here.

They might have ordered a boiled young turkey, with oyster sauce.

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