My friend Susan posted something on Facebook a couple of days ago, and it is so cool that I couldn't resist sharing it here.
From the New York Public Library's website, "What's on the Menu?":
With approximately 40,000 menus dating from the 1840s to the present, The New York Public Library’s restaurant menu collection is one of the largest in the world, used by historians, chefs, novelists and everyday food enthusiasts. Trouble is, the menus are very difficult to search for the greatest treasures they contain: specific information about dishes, prices, the organization of meals, and all the stories these things tell us about the history of food and culture.To solve this, we’re working to improve the collection by transcribing the menus, dish by dish. Doing this will allow us to dramatically expand the ways in which the collection can be researched and accessed, opening the door to new kinds of discoveries. We’ve built a simple tool that makes the transcribing pretty easy to do, but it’s a big job, so we need your help.
Well, count me in.
In addition to it being really easy to take part in the project, it is a real treat (no pun intended) browsing through the menus in the collection, both in terms of design and content.
This one is so pretty, I'd like to frame it and hang it on my wall,
along with the Mardi, le 11 Decembre 1900 menu, above.
Watch out - things can get kind of wild at Ladies' Day at the Drug-Trade Club!
A few menus from Buffalo's Statler's Restaurant:
Thank goodness it's perfectly ventilated...
... and the meals are daintily served.
And a few from Buffalo's Statler Hotel Restaurant (where you could get your breakfastluncheonddinner):
I love these menus from the 1901 Pan American Expo in Buffalo:
Hmm ... raw meat sandwich, anyone?
Celery mayonnaise salad - actually, all things celery - must have been very popular at the turn of the century.
A few more that caught my eye while browsing:
Please do not fee the waiters.
"Cucumbers - High Priced, but we must have them."
Some of my favorite menus are the handwritten ones.
Here is a menu I helped transcribe this morning:
I'll have the table celery for $0.25, wiener schnitzel for $0.40,
and a whole potted spring chicken en casserole for $1.25, please.
"For anyone who studies the way people cook and eat, restaurant menus offer an extraordinary range of rich material that few other sources can match. But for obvious logistical reasons, it's never been possible to explore that huge trove of information in the depth it deserves. This project will open up the menus and all they can tell us about ingredients, dishes and meal structure, about the economics and sociology of eating out, about the very language of food." Laura Shapiro, culinary historian and author of Perfection Salad.
Now, go do your part for food and cultural history (warning - its addicting)!
Thanks for sharing this, Susan!