Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Andersonville Beans

Lackawanna County,

It was startling to discover a dish called “Andersonville beans” on the menu from a Union Ex-Prisoners of War Association banquet in 1889. Andersonville, the largest Confederate prison during the Civil War, was a hellhole in Georgia, where nearly a third of the prisoners died of starvation or disease. A quarter of a century later, this local veteran’s group in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania had the curious idea of naming a bean dish after the infamous prison. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Taft is Notified; Cincinnati Joyful


This daily menu from the Sinton Hotel in Cincinnati reflects the city's exuberant mood on July 28, 1908, when William Howard Taft accepted the Republican nomination for president from the portico of his Federalist mansion. Feeling the intense heat of that hot summer day, the 300-pound Taft passed over large sections of his speech, explaining to the crowd that they could read his entire oration in the newspapers.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oriental Hospitalities

San Simeon, 

Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst sent to San Francisco for the good linens and china in September 1929, when preparing for the upcoming visit of British politician Winston Churchill to his grand estate named La Cuesta Encantada.  Although Churchill appreciated the efforts that were made in his behalf, it did not stop him from keenly observing his host, writing to his wife Clementine: “Hearst was most interesting to meet, & I got (sic) like him - a grave simple child - with no doubt a nasty temper - playing with the most costly toys. A vast income always overspent: Ceaseless building & collecting not very discriminatingly works of art: two magnificent establishments, two charming wives; complete indifference to public opinion, a strong liberal & democratic outlook, a 15 million daily circulation, oriental hospitalities, extreme personal courtesy (to us at any rate)...”1

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Battle Creek Idea

The Sanitarium
Battle Creek, 1895-1903

Eating out is usually more about pleasure and diversion than subsistence. However, for those who checked into the Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan to restore their health, it was more about diversion and subsistence, for they would take little pleasure in the meals that they would be served there. Four menus dating from 1895 to 1903 show what  foods then constituted a nutritious diet, including the addition of a new food group to the menu around the turn of the last century.