Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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

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

Today I continue the story I began yesterday, which was an article in The Hotel Monthly (Vol. 6; Chicago in 1898).  You will remember that the editors of that journal took it upon themselves to analyse the components of the Easter dinner menus of thirty seven hotel menus from across several states. Two menus were given in their entirety in the article (the shortest and the longest) and I repeated them in my post.

From where we left off yesterday ……..

Each of these thirty-seven bills of fare was dissected and the component parts of all of them assorted; thus each particular kind of food was grouped, affording a means of ascertaining, by count, its popularity or relative importance as compared with other foods listed on the different cards. From ninety-five to a hundred per cent., it was discovered, listed beef, a punch or ice of some kind, ice cream, fruits, cheese and coffee, indicating that these articles are practically indispensable to the complete menu, so far as the general idea of the bill of fare architects is concerned, A surprising feature is the small number of articles in general use, scarcely a bakers dozen of any one kind of food being drawn upon more than twenty times in the aggregate.
In the following list showing results obtained, the figures accompanying each article signify in how many of the thirty-seven bills of fare it appears:

SHELLFISH - Oysters 20; clams 7.
RELISHES - Beginning with the most popular and grading downward; olives, radishes, tomatoes, salted almonds, pecans, peanuts, lettuce, cheese straws, cucumbers, young onions, pimolas, celery, stuffed mangoes, caviar, gherkins.
SOUPS - Consommes 29; creams 11, sea turtle 1o; miscellaneous kinds 11.
FISH - Shad 10; pompano 7; trout 5; miscellaneous 17.
MEATS - Beef 35: lamb 31; ham 6; miscellaneous meats such as suckling pig, calves head, tongue, goose, gosling, etc., not more than one or two of a kind.
POULTRY- Chicken (including capon) 19: squab (including pigeon) 9; turkey 6; domestic duck 3.
ENTREES - Sweetbreads 15; mushrooms 8. Other entrees of frogs, terrapin, lobster, shrimps, soft shell crabs, oysters, shad roes, etc., ranging from 8 downwards.
SWEET ENTREES - On a majority of the cards.
VEGETABLES - Potatoes 37. Other vegetables from greater to less degree in about this order: asparagus, peas, beans, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, beets, spinach, oysterplant, etc.
GAME - Wild duck 13; snipe 3: pheasant 2; chicken, plover, quail, grouse each mentioned only once.
SALADS - Dressed lettuce 13; lettuce and tomato 9; shrimp 4; chicken 4: Russian 3; lobster 2, tomato 2 and one each only of Jardiniere, Easter, cucumber, Dumas, Brussells sprouts, renaissance, sweetbread, watercress, celery and truffle mayonnaise.
PASTRY—Puddings 16.
Pies—Rhubarb 14; lemon 8; cherry 5; apple 5, orange 5; apricot 4; pineapple 2; pumpkin, vanilla, mince, peach, cocoanut.—A dozen cards with no pie.
Strawberry short cake 17.
Ice cream and cake 36; coffee 37; fruit 37.
CHEESE—Roquefort 17; American 15; Edam 1o; cream 4; Neufchatel 3; camembert 2; Swiss 2; brie 2; gorgonzola, imperial, sage, stilton, Old
[Scattered through the different cards were a number of dishes with unintelligible fancy names, whose composition can only be guessed at, and for that reason are not considered in this presentation.]

This shows a preference for
Oysters, consommes, cream soups, turtle soups, shad, pompano, beef, lamb, chicken, squab, sweetbreads, mushrooms, wild duck, lettuce and tomato salad, rhubarb pie, strawberry shortcake, Roquefort and American cheese.

While looking through the different cards with a critical eye (before dissecting them) we had set aside that of the Kimball-House at Davenport, Iowa, as, in our opinion, a model. When we started to build a menu based on the figures above given, we found, as we progressed, that it compared very closely with that of the Kimball House production, which latter we produce herewith as THE COMPOSITE—the current idea of what constitutes a consistent American menu for a festival dinner.

I confess to not having had the slightest idea what a pimola was when I read this article. It must be an American term. A pimola is apparently simply an olive stuffed with pimento (sweet red pepper.)

Here are the instructions for some rather more substantial stuffed olives:

Stuffed Olives for Garnish.
Take 1 lb. of large and round olives; remove the stones with a cutter, and blanch for three minutes in boiling water. Drain, and fill the hollow in each olive with some Chicken Forcemeat, mixed with some d’Uxelles.
The Royal Cookery Book, by Jules Gouffe (1869)

To be continued ….

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This American had never heard of pimolas; I think it's an obsolete term. Thanks for explaining.