"Hordes of men and boys trudged along the pavements blowing horns and shouting through megaphones. The fakers sold out their stocks of horns before the new century was born. Everywhere the New Year's greeting of friend to friend was not an exchange of appropriate sentiments, but a long joint blast on red kazoos."
--Chicago Tribune, January 1, 1900
It's New Year's Day and, since my family roots are Pennsylvania German, that means a hearty feast of pork and sauerkraut will be served up to ensure good luck in the coming year. Germans were one of the primary immigrant groups in 1900 Chicago and one out of four of the city's population was either born in Germany or had parents who had settled there.
Meal planning and budgeting at the turn of the century was just as important then as it is today. In 1896 THE DAILY NEWS COOK BOOK was published providing a year of daily menus for those on a modest budget. The book, actually a reprint of a cookbook published by the Chicago Record, was:
DESIGNED TO FURNISH "GOOD LIVING," IN APPETIZING VARIETY, AT AN EXPENSE NOT TO EXCEED $500 A YEAR FOR A FAMILY OF FIVE; ARRANGED SO THAT REMNANTS FROM ONE DAY CAN FREQUENTLY BE USED WITH MENUS OF THE NEXT
The menu for New Year's Day, since it was a holiday, was designed for 10 people at a cost of $5.00.
MENU FOR NEW YEAR'S DAY
Hominy and meat croquettes.
Apricot and fig sauce.
Clear soup. Bread sticks.
Stuffed whitefish—creamed oyster sauce.
Roast venison. Currant jelly sauce.
Ringed potatoes. Onion ormoloo.
Walnut and watercress salad.
Cheese "fingers." Celery.
Timbales with preserved strawberries.
Hot clear sauce.
Raisins or dates (creamed).
Sliced venison with mustard.
Bread and butter.
Sponge cake. Oranges.
The recipes for these meals can be found in the book, so give it a try! Wouldn't count on it costing $5.00 though. That same year, it should be noted, the first Fannie Farmer Cookbook was also published. Cooking was quickly becoming a "domestic science."
For a look at cooking in Chicago at the turn of the century, Learning to Cook in 1898: A Chicago Culinary Memoir by Eleanor Hudera Hanson and Ellen F. Steinberg provides more than recipes and menus. The book focuses on Irma Rosenthal, an American-born, middle class Chicago bride of Jewish heritage who taught herself about cooking, nutrition, health, and household management.
In future posts, I'll talk more about early Chicago home management, food products that originated in the city and household items that made their debut at the Columbian Exposition. It should be an interesting year.
Here's wishing us all a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!
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Photo Credit: The 1900 House, PBS