December 13 …
Most experts say that we humans orginated in
One of the dangers faced by migrants in their new home is that of being ripped off by unscrupulous persons who take advantage of their confusion and vulnerability. The writer of an article in an American newspaper on this day in 1894 expressed some concern about the potential for abuse of the system of feeding emigrants at
When the immigrant has changed his European money for that which passes in this country, on landing at
The man who conducts the restaurant alone knows what his sales amount to. He makes no report to the Government as to the number of sales or their values. The Government sells the privilege; the man who buys it does the rest. No one else - not even the immigrant - has much to say about it.
Why should not the Government control this business, and by a businesslike system of reports make it certain that the immigrants are protected so long as they are on Government property and practically under Government jurisdiction?
The article goes on to describe the Bill of Fare posted behind the counter:
Rye bread, two pounds....10c
Wheat bread, two pounds....10c
Wheat bread, one pound...5c
Swedish bread, two pounds....10c
Bologna sausage, per pound...20c
Boiled ham, per pound....30c
Corned beef, per pound....25c
Cheese, per pound....20c
Coffee, per cup.....5c
Milk, per pint.....5c
Soup, with bread, per bowl....10c
Sandwich, ham or corned beef, each....7c
Sausage and bread, each.....13c, 2 for 25c
Soda water, ginger ale, or sarsaparilla, each, small....7c
Cigars, each.....5 and 10c
At the bottom of the bill is this notice, in large letters: "Prices are regulated by the Commissioner of Immigration." This notice is posted by virtue of a clause in the contract, which the successful bidder for the privilege makes, under which the Commissioner is at liberty to fix the prices which may be charged for bread, sausage, soup, &c.
… Few college graduates have sufficient knowledge of the modern languages to keep this restaurant. It requires a linguist to sell these pies and bologna. The process, as observed the other day, is peculiar. The quantity purchased was fixed by the man behind the counter, and he depended somewhat on the length of the journey ahead of the immigrant. As the half-dazed European approached the stairs where he was to look after his baggage, the man behind the counter shouted at him, in a foreign tongue. Presumably he asked where the immigrant was going, for the latter produced his ticket and showed it to the man behind the counter, sometimes saying something in his native tongue.
These things were put in a bag of tough brown paper, the price was paid, and the immigrant, stolid as a graven image, passed down to the baggage room. This process was repeated at a rapid rate. Bread and bologna went in a steady stream of brown paper bags and cash came to the restaurant. Some days 3,000 luncheons of this type were disposed of.
The immigrant does not know whether he has his money's worth or not. There is no record of his transaction. He makes no protest at this treatment, and if he wanted to, it would be difficult for him to make out a case against the restaurant.
The article does not suggest that the current owner of the licence is cheating, he merely points out the potential for dishonesty. There were others who were looking out for the new citizens, and migrants (as well as other ‘poor’ folk) were specifically addressed in a publication by the American Public Health Association in 1890. The little volume called Practical Sanitary and Economic Cooking Adapted to Persons of Moderate and Small Means contains nutrition advice and simple recipes for three price ranges: for a family of six these were, per day, 78 cents, $1.26 a day, and $1.38.
The author of this book is big on the importance of soups. She says “at least three nations, the French, German and Italian, make daily use of them and have for generations. To take part of our food in this form is an absolute necessity if we are to do the best possible with a certain amount of money”. How true. Bean soup would have been a familiar and comforting dish to many of those immigrants: here is one version from the book.
Ingredients. 1 lb. beans, 1 onion, 2 tablespoons beef fat, salt and pepper.
Additions, to be made according to taste. ¼ lb. pork, or a ham bone, a pinch of red pepper, or, an hour before serving, different vegetables, as carrots and turnips, chopped and fried.
Soak the beans over night in 2 qts. water. In the morning pour off, put on fresh water and cook with the onion and fat till very soft, then mash or press through a cullender to remove the skins, and add enough water to make 2 qts. of somewhat thick soup. Season.
This soup may also be made from cold baked beans. Boil ½ hr., or till they fall to pieces, then strain and season.
Tomorrow’s Story …
A little bit of seal meat.
Quotation for the Day …