Friday, September 21, 2012

A Classical Dinner, 1904.

There were many events, held at many restaurants, during the Louisiana Fair in 1904. On this day, in that year, at that great event, a group of doctors - perhaps from a local medical society – sat down to dinner. This is the menu for their meal:

Caviar on Toast
Consomme en Tasse
Olives  Radishes
Baked Fillet of Halibut Italienne
Cucumbers      Potatoes Noisette
Sweetbreads Larded Toulouse
French Peas                 Moet et Chandon White Seal
Filet of Beef Richelieu
Brussels Sprouts
Ice Cream
Assorted Cakes
Cheese and Crackers

In the tradition of such dinners in that era, there was nothing disturbingly innovative or fancily foreign on the menu. A fine meal was one of classical dishes, cooked well, served in the usual sequence with the expected side dishes, garnishes, and sauces. If the diners got bored with the same old, same old dinners, no-one seemed to complain. I wonder how chefs maintained their enthusiasm?

I have chosen the Filet of Beef Richelieu as the dish of the day. The filet of beef would have been served with a ‘Richelieu’ garnish. According to La Cuisine Fran├žaise. French Cooking for Every Home. Adapted to American Requirements (Chicago, 1893) this was a vegetable variation of  the ‘Jardiniere’ garnish.


Potatoes                       1 cupful
Green peas                   1 cupful
Green beans                 1 cupful
Small carrots.               1 cupful.
Cauliflowers carved     1 cupful
Butter                           4 tablespoonsful.

PREPARATION.--We call "jardiniere" a garnish made out of 2 or 4 potatoes fried in butter and several kinds of vegetables, as: green peas, green beans, small carrots, cauliflower cut in pieces of the size of a hazelnut, etc., each of them having been cooked apart in some boiling water and then fried in butter. When the tenderloin, or loin, etc., is placed in a long dish, place a fried potato at each end and in the middle of the dish, then arrange the other vegetables with taste in small cakes around the meat.

PROPORTIONS AND PREPARATION.--As for the above, No. 324, but add to the jardiniere 4 tomatoes and 4 mushrooms, stuffed.

I don’t know about you, but too many meals like that in a row and I would be screaming for chilli or ginger or fresh herbs.


Shay said...

Many of these doctors probably enjoyed hearty Creole cooking at home.

I spent 30 days in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and have mixed emotions about the food I ate there.

The Old Foodie said...

I didnt think of that explanation - posh food when dining out because soul food at home. And I am sure chefs and restaurants of the time would not have dreamed of presenting hearty 'peasant' food to paying guests. How things have changed.