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NEW ENGLAND BOILED DINNER
April 6, 2012 1:10 PM   Subscribe

From the How To Be A Retronaut archives: U.S SENATE DINING MENU, Thursday August 27th, 1964
posted by The Whelk (74 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I first looked at this, my brain went "HOLY CRAP, DOLLARS?!", slowly becoming outraged at how much lunch on Capitol Hill cost even back in 1964. And then I saw that the priciest thing on the menu was like a buck eighty and felt pretty silly.
posted by xedrik at 1:14 PM on April 6, 2012


I want all of that at those prices. Might save the boiled dinner for St Patrick's.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:15 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks to this, I now know about the existence of Jellied Madrilene, which appears essentially to be beef/chicken Jell-o. Yum!
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:19 PM on April 6, 2012


Welsh rarebit with fried bananas?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:20 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


For comparison, the menu today.
posted by stbalbach at 1:21 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cream cheese on saltines? They really knew how to live back then.
posted by theodolite at 1:21 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Basically it's cow and beef with a side of beef plus some cow and if you don't like that try some pickled beef. And for the lady who might be there, a token dish of shrimp. Today the menu has one beef entry the rest are chicken, shrimp and the ubiquitous salmon.
posted by stbalbach at 1:26 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't notice any typos in the old menu.
posted by box at 1:27 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Back when I was a kid, you didn't have to question the fries' freedom. wait, yes you did.
posted by not_on_display at 1:27 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yum!
posted by scose at 1:27 PM on April 6, 2012


The Dirksen buffet is open to the public, and pretty good, if a bit pricey for lunch ($16). It includes bean soup. Meetup?
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:29 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the modern Senate Dining Room menu, via stbalbach's link:
Legislative Buzzers and Signal Lights
One (1) long ring at hour of convening
One (1) red light to remain lighted at all times when Senate is in actual session
Where lights exist they will correspond with rings
1 Rings Yeas and Nays
2 Rings Quorum Call
3 Rings Call of Absentees
4 Rings Adjournment or Recess (End of daily session)
5 Rings Seven and a Half Minutes Remaining on Yea and Nay Vote
6 Rings Morning Business Concluded (Lights cut off immediately) Recess
During Daily Session (Lights stay on during period of recess)

Throughout the Senate Office Buildings and the Senate Wing of the Capitol signal
lights and clocks containing signal lights can be observed. The lights and associated
buzzer denoting a change in the light signal indicate activity on the Senate floor.
posted by gilrain at 1:29 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty subversive, hiding the pot in the "beverages" section.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:34 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Basically it's cow and beef with a side of beef plus some cow and if you don't like that try some pickled beef. And for the lady who might be there, a token dish of shrimp.

Are we reading the same menu? There's a lot of beef, but there's also turkey, ham, chicken salad, rabbit(!), pork and lamb chops, tuna...
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:35 PM on April 6, 2012


How did everyone between 1949 and 1980 not die of coronaries?
posted by griphus at 1:41 PM on April 6, 2012


Adjusted for inflation, a 25 cent bowl of the famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup would cost $1.74 in 2010 dollars. So why does it cost $6 now? Organic beans maybe.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:43 PM on April 6, 2012


I'm willing to bet these are human sized portions and not the hubcaps normally served in US eateries.
posted by The Whelk at 1:43 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


My Nova Scotia-reared mother and all her siblings do that New England boiled dinner when they get together in a large enough group. In their version, it's verging on painfully salty, and like most old-tymey boiled dishes, if you weren't raised on it you don't get the comfort-food nostalgia and you just think, damn, there's so many finer things you could do with a brisket.

(And yes, I will never, ever be treated like a local when I'm visiting the folks in Antigonish for sentiments like this, and I do not care. What Nova Scotians routinely do to some of the best scallops on the planet is a crime against nature.)
posted by gompa at 1:44 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Famous bean soup is famous.

I miss the "cheese and crackers" course. Restaurants still offered that in my childhood. My favorite was the little foil-wrapped wedges of bleu-ish cheese on Euphrates sesame-seed crackers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:45 PM on April 6, 2012


I guess you're right my criticism may be unfounded. Does seem more heavy on red meat than typical. Compare with the menu today. Three of three sandwich choices are red meat. 3 of the 6 entrees are red meat. Red meat are the big price items on the Grill menu. Just seems over-weighted vs fish and chicken than on menus today.
posted by stbalbach at 1:45 PM on April 6, 2012


Unless you are making a soup or stew, boiling meat should be considered a crime.
posted by griphus at 1:47 PM on April 6, 2012


I'll just have a Metrecal. Unless you have Ayds.
posted by hal9k at 1:49 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pot of coffee, 20 cents.
posted by aught at 1:55 PM on April 6, 2012


Lamb chops for $2.25?????
~steps into the wayback machine...
posted by Thorzdad at 1:56 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


MrMoonPie: "The Dirksen buffet is open to the public, and pretty good, if a bit pricey for lunch ($16). It includes bean soup. Meetup?"

Actually, all but three(?) of the Congressional eateries are open to the public, with two of those being fairly easy to access if you've got an escort. The Senate Dining Room is really the only one that's completely off-limits to common folk.

The Captiol Carryout is where it's at. It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall in the basement of the Capitol, but it's much cheaper and usually has better entrees and sandwiches than any of the big cafeterias. Dirksen always seemed unreasonably expensive to me.

Coming in close second is the Capitol Market; the House's equivalent of the Capitol Carryout. Slightly better selection; slightly worse entrees; great/cheap breakfast; very cheap salad bar.

Longworth (on the House Side) probably has the best cafeteria overall, but is always crowded.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, is Cups & Co.; an Asian-esque buffet and sandwich shop in the Russell (Senate) Building, which is pretty good, but on the pricier side, and inexplicably run independently of the other foodservice operations.

I've never actually eaten in the Capitol Visitors Center. It's ridiculously expensive.

I also hear that the new LOC cafeteria is pretty nice. I remember the old one being extremely cheap, and super-1970s (ie. the most thoroughly brown/orange room I've ever set foot in).
posted by schmod at 1:58 PM on April 6, 2012 [46 favorites]


Musso's in LA was still serving jellied consomme in the late 90's.
posted by brujita at 2:06 PM on April 6, 2012


My mother was the head of the dining services at the CIA at about the same time as this menu. I don't think any ephemera such as this exists from there - they even had to destroy the dishes after they were used! She says it was every bit as cloak-and-dagger as you'd imagine it to be.
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:13 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jelly Consomme sounds like a great drag name.
posted by The Whelk at 2:14 PM on April 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


How did everyone between 1949 and 1980 not die of coronaries?

They did (see Chart 1, "Decline in Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease in Relation to Important Public Health and Primary Care Interventions").
posted by blucevalo at 2:20 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


How did everyone between 1949 and 1980 not die of coronaries?

Well, for my family the answer seems to be "good doctors."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:23 PM on April 6, 2012


Head of lettuce.
posted by cmoj at 2:33 PM on April 6, 2012


I don't know if I choose to believe that Cold War policies were discussed over Sanka.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:51 PM on April 6, 2012


elsietheeel: "Adjusted for inflation, a 25 cent bowl of the famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup would cost $1.74 in 2010 dollars. So why does it cost $6 now? Organic beans maybe."

That's only in the sitdown restaurant (which only Senators can go to). Otherwise, it's $2.55 for a cup, and $3.60 for a bowl.

Not that you'd want to eat it. It's nasty stuff.
posted by schmod at 2:52 PM on April 6, 2012


rabbit(!),

Welsh Rabbit is neither Rabbit, nor Welsh. Discuss:
posted by empath at 2:58 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


empath: Welsh Rabbit is neither Rabbit, nor Welsh. Discuss:

All right. Well, cheese on toast is excellent. I can't imagine a little beer in the mix would be so bad.
posted by gilrain at 3:03 PM on April 6, 2012


Oh, yes... there's a place by my apartment that makes a delicious version of it with poached eggs and bacon on texas toast. I get it for brunch all the time.
posted by empath at 3:05 PM on April 6, 2012


All right. Well, cheese on toast is excellent.

BUT WITH FRIED BANANAS?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:14 PM on April 6, 2012


Fuck yes plantains.
posted by empath at 3:14 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm seriously going to get welsh rabbit with fried plantains at that place tomorrow for brunch now.
posted by empath at 3:15 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless you are making a soup or stew, boiling meat should be considered a crime.
posted by griphus


Bolito misto, pot au feu, water boiled beef and shabu shabu all called to complain about your comment. We accepted the long distance charges from Italy, France, China and Japan respectively, expect to see a bill in your me-mail.

Non snarky response; every culture has decided that boiling meat is delicious and a good way to cook it.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:28 PM on April 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


schmod: "Not that you'd want to eat it. It's nasty stuff."

Fighting words, schmod. Fighting words.

(I preferred the House version over the Senate version. If you thought the bean soup was there as historical tradition only, and that real people never ate it, you obviously missed me in the Longworth cafeteria ladling that stuff into my bowl as if it was gold.)
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 3:29 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


one of the worst meals ive eaten is at PArliment in Ottawa, i wonder if the Americans are any better
posted by PinkMoose at 3:55 PM on April 6, 2012


one of the worst meals ive eaten is at PArliment in Ottawa, i wonder if the Americans are any better

Only if you brine the American overnight.
posted by hal9k at 4:26 PM on April 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Don't be silly, hal9k. Meese aren't carnivorous.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:35 PM on April 6, 2012


Interesting that it's a daily menu, and is typeset; possibly the only restaurant that could afford to do that would be one with free access to the government printing office. In 1964, I'm assuming someone had to physically place all the type.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:45 PM on April 6, 2012


Fried bananas used to be a common accompaniment to beef. I've been reading a bunch of early 20th century cookbooks lately, and whenever it's mentioned, it's treated as totally de rigueur, with no apparent need to explain it. Here's a brief blog post at The Old Foodie that includes a recipe from that era.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:46 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting that it's a daily menu, and is typeset; possibly the only restaurant that could afford to do that would be one with free access to the government printing office.

It was pretty routine for restaurants to have printed daily menus in the 1970s and 1980s. Jobbing printers with Linotype machines printed menus (and programs for school concerts, and flyers for garage sales, and all kinds of things we do on computers today) for fairly low prices "in between" big jobs.

Daily menus in big restaurants in those days weren't "catch of the day" type things like your corner hipster bistro does now; the chefs projected meals months at a time based on seasonal availability, holidays, etc., and the changes from menu to menu were pretty quick to make on a Linotype.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:18 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


i was excited about the recipe for the famous senate restaurant bean soup, till i saw the 1.5 lbs of ham hocks and figured it would be down hill from there. but then there was only other ingredient - braised onions? it seems ridiculously simple.
i'd like to imagine harried senators in its halcyon days frantically working, only taking breaks for sustenance when they're nearly exhausted. out in the hall a young staff member kept a cauldron of beans at a low simmer, occasionally stirring, keeping our young democracy alive.
posted by camdan at 5:18 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Linotype and Monotype machines, I should say. Though Monotype machines were more expensive.

If you already have a custom layout template set up (as a regular restaurant client would) it honestly doesn't take much longer to set up a short document like a menu on a Linotype than it does on a computer.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:27 PM on April 6, 2012


Musso's in LA was still serving jellied consomme in the late 90's.

They still are. *gag*
posted by ShutterBun at 5:45 PM on April 6, 2012


ubiquitous salmon (all lowercase) is my new Dubstep album.
posted by Splunge at 7:06 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do they still print their menu every day?
posted by brujita at 7:12 PM on April 6, 2012


Bolito misto, pot au feu, water boiled beef and shabu shabu all called to complain about your comment.

Bolito misto, pot au feu, or any stew or soup (including NEW ENGLAND BOILED DINNER) should be simmered slowly, not boiled. Shuizhu and shabu-shabu involve quick blanching, not boiling. I assert that boiling meat for an extended period is nothing but a recipe for tough, awful meat.
posted by mubba at 7:43 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's Welsh rarebit. Not rabbit and not Welsh rabbit. It's a cheesy toast thing. A boy brought it to the Countries of the World potluck when I was in Grade 6 and no one would touch it, just in case a rabbit was in there. Poor kid. Someone else brought sushi and no one would touch that either -- he was from "the city".

Also, is the head of lettuce a salad made from an entire head of lettuce or do they just stick a head of lettuce on a plate? Or something in between?

Love the saltines. I remember that as a kid too.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:33 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Welsh RABBIT.....and English Monkey.
posted by brujita at 9:03 PM on April 6, 2012


I had Welsh rarebit once, and it was amazingly wonderful. It was like fondue, but on a plate, and you didn't have to share. Not something I'd suggest eating if you plan on, say, moving at any point later in the day.

Meese aren't carnivorous.

Only when in a pleasant mood.
posted by meese at 10:09 PM on April 6, 2012


It's Welsh Rabbit, and the title of the dish is possibly a national slur, i.e., people from Wales are so poor that they eat cheesy bread and pretend it's delicious rabbit.
posted by La Cieca at 11:36 PM on April 6, 2012


I grew up calling it rarebit. I heard the story about the Welsh and rabbit also. The kind my mother made was strictly 1960's ultra-cheap Campbell's, cheese soup and tomato soup mixed together, with some milk (not fully diluted as for soup) and spooned on top of saltines. That was some seriously crap cooking.
posted by Goofyy at 1:12 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other news: Toads in the hole are neither; nor are pigs, with respect to blankets.

Trolling the public: older than you'd think.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:03 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, this wasn't on the menu, but the menu reminded me of aspic, the other jellied horror of that era. Good lord, the martinis must have been amazing back then, to judge from their culinary delights.
posted by dejah420 at 5:32 AM on April 7, 2012


Pretty subversive, hiding the pot in the "beverages" section.

Yeah, man, the 60s were pretty wild. You haven't lived until you've seen Everett Dirksen do a bong rip.
posted by jonp72 at 9:10 AM on April 7, 2012


I have heard that pizza was sometimes called "Italian rarebit" when it was first introduced to the UK. It may be an urban legend, but I kind of don't want to know for sure.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2012


Hey they have that bean soup recipe on the website. I would definitely go to a "Let's eat at the Senate" meetup next time I am in DC. Folks vaguely interested in the gross eating habits of Presidents might enjoy "From Hardtack to Homefries: An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals" which has a great chapter called The Indomitable Mrs. Nesbitt talking about why the White House menu during the FDR administration was so terrible.
posted by jessamyn at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


dejah420: even though I was a kid in the '60s, I can indeed vouch for the fantastic-ness of that era's martinis.... martinis then didn't mean apple martinis or watermelon martinis or peach martinis, no, there was nothing frou-frou or fruity about 'em. A glass of good gin, a tiny dash of vermouth, maybe an olive or a pickled onion and call it done. Dear old Dad taught me martini-making very young!

(And James Bond and his "shaken, not stirred" crap? James Bond was a wimp: shaking it with ice breaks up that ice, and all you get is a watered-down drink --- real martinis were stirred, very gently!)
posted by easily confused at 5:01 PM on April 7, 2012


Johnny Assay: I have heard that pizza was sometimes called "Italian rarebit" when it was first introduced to the UK.

Languagehat on Italian rarebit.
posted by Nomyte at 6:28 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Definitely not a good time to be a vegetarian.
posted by Defenestrator at 9:11 PM on April 7, 2012


Weren't iceberg wedge salads a big thing at steakhouses back then? I dimly remember Roger or Don ordering one in an episode of Mad Men. Would a head of lettuce salad be something like that perhaps?
posted by peppermind at 8:10 AM on April 8, 2012


(And James Bond and his "shaken, not stirred" crap? James Bond was a wimp: shaking it with ice breaks up that ice, and all you get is a watered-down drink --- real martinis were stirred, very gently!)
posted by easily confused at 5:01 PM on April 7 [+] [!]


James Bond was a secret agent. He might need to shoot someone at any time. Being a little less drunk than the other guy is a good idea. Shaken, not stirred is a tactical decision.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 8:52 AM on April 8, 2012


i'm definitely calling "pizza" "italian rarebit" from now on.
posted by camdan at 10:21 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, all but three(?) of the Congressional eateries are open to the public,

So what does that mean exactly... is the public allowed to just wander in to the office buildings and go to the cafeteria? You said one was in the basement of the Capitol but I'm pretty sure you can't just wander in there, right?
posted by smackfu at 12:45 PM on April 9, 2012


Yep, you can just wander in to the congressional cafeteria, at least on days when the Capitol is open.
posted by empath at 1:22 PM on April 9, 2012


schmod: "I also hear that the new LOC cafeteria is pretty nice. I remember the old one being extremely cheap, and super-1970s (ie. the most thoroughly brown/orange room I've ever set foot in)."

Firstly, of course my only comment ever to be sidebarred details my incredibly mundane lunching habits at work, and contains inane descriptions of our oh-so-fabulous cafeterias. (Slow news day?)

Secondly, the new LOC cafeteria gleams. I just ate lunch there, and hoo boy, it's pretty. (The food wasn't bad either, and they've got a nice discount for congressional staff, and I think they're the only place on the Hill that does that.) If there enough MeFites work nearby, we could totally do a meetup there.
posted by schmod at 10:47 AM on April 10, 2012


smackfu: "So what does that mean exactly... is the public allowed to just wander in to the office buildings and go to the cafeteria? You said one was in the basement of the Capitol but I'm pretty sure you can't just wander in there, right?"

Yep. The Senate and House Office Buildings are all open to the public, as well as the LOC. Anybody can go in during normal business hours. A surprising number of government buildings have similar policies, as long as you're willing to walk through a metal detector.

The Senate Dining room is reserved for Senators and their spouses. I've never been in, but I imagine it looks like the club where Michael Douglas eats dinner in The Game, although I secretly know that it's not actually that opulent. (Actually, it looks like staffers can also wander in during off-peak hours (and Tuesdays for some reason.) I'll have to try this sometime!)

You need someone to bring you in to the two "carryout" places in the basement of the capitol, as they're located in one of the few non-public spaces in the Capitol Complex.

Those are the three that aren't (completely) open to the public. The rest are accessible to anybody who walks in off the street.
posted by schmod at 11:03 AM on April 10, 2012


I just got back from the Capitol Visitors' Center cafeteria, and can confirm that it's open to anyone who makes it through the metal detector, and that it's not particularly worth going to.

Anyone who wants to meet at the LOC cafeteria, lemme know. You might even get a tour (of the Library of Congress. I can't imagine that a tour of the LOC cafeteria would be as compelling).
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:49 AM on April 10, 2012


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