Thursday, May 2, 2013

Longing for the Past

San Francisco, 

When menus are printed for a small get-together, they often reflect the underlying values of an individual or group, such as this charming menu from a dinner in June 1923 hosted by Camille Mailhebuau, Jr., eldest son of the famed restaurateur. His father had recently returned to San Francisco, opening his eponymous eatery on Pine Street, shown in the previous essay “A Moment in Time.” Although Camille Jr. describes this event as the “first dinner given to my friends,” as if he were marking a rite of passage in his epicurean family, the party was probably organized by his parents to celebrate his twenty-first birthday. It appears that his father planned this bill of fare and arranged to have the menus printed; the illustration is surprisingly old-fashioned for a youthful gathering during the Jazz Age. The image suggests a longing for the past, harkening back to the joyful time before Prohibition, when Champagne could be legally served in American restaurants, or perhaps even sipped while flying your “aeroplane.”

1 comment:

Deana Sidney said...

I love those private party menus. Everytime I read about the great private dinners and the menus I despair when I can't see them. I always wonder where they went... especially those hand painted Tiffany numbers.

A charming menu and lovely dishes (although I don't have a clue what some of them are).