What's on the Menu?, Food for Thought, NYPL Labs
Doin' the Dishes!
Okay, so they’re not included in the works of Shakespeare (as far as I know), but that doesn’t mean these dishes aren't of value to researchers and scholars and the generally curious who read menus in order to learn more about the food served and consumed in restaurants throughout history.
But until now this kind of information (the food!) was difficult - if not impossible - to search in our digitized menu collection.
Yes, you can search “oyster”, but you’ll get “Oyster Bay” instead of saddlerocks, or “Shanley Bros. Oyster House” instead of blue points. In other words you get the location and restaurant name, but not the very content (the food!) of the menu.
So we’ve built a website where you can tell us “What’s on the Menu?” and help create what we like to call a “database of dishes.” From your transcriptions, I hope we can learn about the foods of the last century to see what these historic menus can teach us about the culinary landscape today. Here are some items I’m excited to track over the next few months:
Rise and fall of oysters
Battle Creek Sanitarium dishes
And this is just the beginning! We'll be following many more foods and wines from these unique primary sources of our dining history. So help us “do the dishes” and we can all reap the rewards.
Go to What's on the Menu? and jump in!