Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The New York Times today has a wonderful article on beefsteak dinners. While the article focuses on present-day dinners held in New Jersey, it does note that the dinners were immensely popular in New York in the early part of the 20th century, especially among political and commercial organizations.
The most famous depiction of a beefsteak dinner is in Joseph Mitchell's "All you can hold for five bucks" which, of course, is available to read here at the Library.
The Library also has a number of official beefsteak dinner menus. The menu above, one of my favorite menus in the collection, is from the Piano Club from 1910. If only today's menus were so simple.
The menu below is from a dinner held in Brooklyn to honor the Brotherhood of Commerical Travelers in 1899. It's interesting to note the similarities between the two menus, not just in their edible offerings, but in their entire design. They're both very masculine and industrial compared to many menus of that time period. While the Times article does mention the lack of silverware at these events, I had also heard that plates were generally optional as well. Perhaps the paper choice for these menus is to connote the paper tableclothes that the meat would've be eaten on. Just a thought....