Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cheryl St.John: Fred Harvey changed the West

In the 1970s, people traveling west of the Mississippi were still venturing into the wild. Loud, smoke-belching trains may have cut across rough terrains, but hard weather, rigid seats and short breaks for bad food showed the West was by no means won. Not only did entrepreneur Fred Harvey’s ingenuity bring young women to the American West, but also introduced surprisingly high-quality foods served on fine china with silver and Irish linens. French chefs were the most highly paid employees in the entire operation and probably in most of the towns where the hotels and dining halls thrived. This is a Fred Harvey dinner menu from 1888. The price for a meal was seventy-five cents.


Blue points on shell
Filets of Whitefish, Madeira sauce
Potatoes franćaise
Young capon w/ hollandaise sauce
Roast sirloin of beef au jus
Pork with applesauce
Turkey, stuffed
Cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes
Boiled sweet potatoes
Elgin sugar corn
Marrowfat peas
Asparagus, cream sauce
Salmi of duck
Queen olives
Baked veal pie, English style
Charlotte of peaches, cognac sauce
Prairie chicken, currant jelly
Sugar cured ham
Pickled lamb’s tongue
Lobster salad au mayonnaise
French slaw
Apple pie, Assorted cakes
Cold custard a la chantilly
Mince pie
Bananas, Oranges, Grapes
New York ice cream
Catawba wine jelly
Edam and Roquefort cheese
Bent’s water crackers
French coffee

My character, Sophie, in The Lawman's Bride works in the Arcade Hotel and serves meals like this to travelers. I imagine most of the young girls who worked there had never seen such fare until they served it to their customers.


LuckyLouPlattsmouthNE said...

Reminds me of the varied menus offered on our recent Freestyle cruise on the Norwegian Sun. I'M
IMPRESSED when you consider how they shipped & stored the ingredients back then!! Did they have cold cellars & ice?

CherylStJ said...

They did use ice, Lou. And remember the shipments arrived daily by train, so items were as fresh as possible for the time period. Imagine lobster and other fish coming by train from the coast!

Carol said...

That's quite a menu! Of course, 75 cents could buy a lot more then!lol

BrendaM said...

It does seem like a big menu.

I want to wish all my blogger friends a Very Happy Valentine's Day!! I hope you all have a wonderful day!