Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Essence of All Easter Dinner Menus (1898): Part I.

The Essence of All Easter Dinner Menus (1898): Part I.

An edition of The Hotel Monthly (Vol. 6) which was published in Chicago in 1898 included a most interesting analysis of menu items at Easter dinners provided by hotels across the country. From this the editors developed a ‘composite’ menu of what a modern American hotel should be expected to provide on the day. I thought it was a very intriguing idea, and wanted to share it with you. The article is long, and I propose to spread it over my posts for the next three days.

Thirty-seven Easter Dinner Bills of Fare Boiled Down into One,
Which is the Essence of All.

Most of us have seen what is called a composite photograph, wherein the images of several faces are combined into one, forming a type of the whole.
While looking through the Easter bills of fare that came to our desk the past month, it occurred to us that it would be quite interesting if, by any means, we could evolve a composite of them, and thereby present to HOTEL MONTHLY readers the consensus of opinion as to what a modern American plan holiday bill of fare should be.
So we set to work to do this. We received in all thirty-seven dinner bills of fare from the following hotels: [list omitted]
The number of articles listed averaged about thirty-eight to the menu. The smallest bill was this one from the Carroll at Vicksburg:

Anchovies sur canape
Consomme Princesse          Cream of cauliflower
Salted almonds         Sliced cucumbers
Broiled pompano, maitre d'hotel
Potatoes Sarah
Prime cut of beef                  Spring lamb, mint sauce
New potatoes            Green peas
Supreme of chicken with truffles
New asparagus
Frogs' legs, d'Uxelles
Stuffed tomatoes
Orange sherbet
Roast pheasant, bread sauce
Guava jelly
Lettuce, French dressing

Cherry tarts                Charlotte russe
Strawberry short cake         Lemon meringue pie
Fancy cakes               Vanilla ice cream
American and Roquefort cheese               Crackers

The largest was this one from the Russell House of Detroit:

Canape, Weddington
Blue points    Little neck clams
Consomme, Dubarry                       Clear sea turtle, Royale
Cheese sticks                         Salted almonds
Radishes        Sliced tomatoes        Lettuce           Young onions            Pimolas
Fresh mushrooms Bordelaise
Broiled lobster, ravigotte                Carolina roe shad, Joinville
Cucumbers                Potatoes, surprise
Boston capon, Perigord
New asparagus, Mousseline                       Haricot flageolets
Roast prime beef, demi glace
Mashed potatoes
Roast duckling, farcie, with baked Russets
Bermuda potatoes                Artichokes, Hollandaise
Spring lamb, mint sauce
Green peas
Sweetbreads, pique, Montebello
Supreme of chicken a la Renaissance
Compote of fruit, Macedoine
Philadelphia squab, au Cresson
Sweet potatoes         Corn fritters
Fresh shrimps, mayonnaise           Salade, a la Russe
Boned turkey, en Bellevue
Steamed fig pudding, brandy sauce
Cherry pie                 Vanilla cream pie
Charlotte russe                     Champagne jelly
Ice cream in form                 Assorted cake
Nuts and raisins
Toasted crackers
As the recipe for the day, I would love to have given you Potatoes Sarah, but the dish has eluded me so far. Instead, please enjoy Cream of Cauliflower Soup, from the Boston Cooking School Cook Book, published in 1896.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup.
4 cups hot White Stock II. or III.               ½ bay leaf
1 cauliflower                                                  ¼ cup flour
¼ cup butter.                                               2 cups milk
1 slice onion                                                  salt
1 stalk celery, cut in inch pieces                 pepper
Soak cauliflower, head down, one hour in cold water to cover; cook in boiling salted water twenty minutes. Reserve one-half flowerets, and rub remaining cauliflower through sieve. Cook onion, celery, and bay leaf in butter five minutes. Remove bay leaf, then add flour, and stir into hot stock; add cauliflower and milk. Season with salt and pepper; then strain, add flowerets, and reheat.

[White Soup Stock II is a made with a veal bone, White Stock III is “The water I which a fowl or chicken is cooked makes White Stock.”]

Second installment of the story tomorrow – the analysis of the menus!

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