Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving, Boston 1886.

The Boston Daily Globe of November 21, 1886 prepared its readers well for Thanksgiving. Plans for the big night were sought from ‘cooks from the leading hotels of Boston’ – all of whom were members of the New England Culinary Club, ‘the leading club of its kind in the country’, and ‘gentlemen of good standing.’ Recipes for all dishes were also obtained, and most conveniently appear to have been scaled down for the household.

“The following bill of fare, with details of preparation, was contributed to the Sunday Globe by the president and secretary of the New England Culinary Club, and has the sanction of every member.’

American Thanksgiving Dinner.


Baked Cod, New Bedford Style

Roast turkey, St James style.
American roast ham

Chicken Pie, American style

Baked mashed potatoes.
Boiled onions.
Squash – mashed turnip.

Cabinet pudding, lemon sauce.

Fruit and cake.

I was astonished to note the complete absence of pumpkin, apple, pecan, mince, or any other sort of sweet pie in this menu! What does that say about ‘tradition’?

Recipes for all of the major dishes were given in the article, but I could hardly chose anything other than the chicken pie, could I?

Chicken Pie, American style.
Take two large chickens. Singe, draw, and wash. Cut in medium sized pieces. Take three onions chopped fine, a little celery, one small carrot scraped and cut in very thin slices. Put this in a stew pan with four ounce of butter. Let it cook ten minutes, then put in the chickens, cover with hot water. Let cook slowly till tender; add two bay leaves or sprig of mace, pepper, and salt. Thicken with two tablespoons of flour kneaded with butter. Line the sides of an earthen pie dish, put in the chickens, and cover with a rich paste. Glace the top with beaten eggs. Bake twenty minutes until a rich brown. Serve.

Quotation for the Day.

Turkey: A large bird whose flesh, when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary


carolina said...

This is great! Yes, NO pies, especially pumpkin. But there IS cake! What fun. Plus the ham and the cod fish, the baked mashed potatoes and boiled onions. Makes it, in some ways, more similar to the menu at the so-called "First Thanksgiving" than our modern meal. What a hoot.

Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

Regarding the lack of pumpkin or apple pie on the menu, I wonder if those were considered too "plebeian" for such an upscale restaurant. What people cook in the home isn't necessarily what would be done in a fancy hotel. Wikipedia (for what that's worth!) says the earliest recipe for pecan pie in a cookbook is 1897 - later than the date of this menu - and also says that it wasn't found in more "common" (popular) cookbooks until the 1940s.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks carolina and Alys - and my apologies for the late response. I have been distraacted and busy with a new granddaughter!
This whole thing about 'tradition' fascinates me. I also looked at the 'traditional' green bean casserole - which is a post-WW II ideas as far as I can tell. I must now look for pecan pie recipes and see how far back I get!