Historical Travel Menus From Northwestern's Transportation Library
January 28, 2012 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Food and drink menus from the international airlines, railways, and cruise ships of decades past (Click "Digital Images" link in each carrier's thread). Courtesy of the Northwestern University Transportation Library's Menu Collection. [Via]
posted by Rykey (25 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, this looks good! Thanks, Rykey!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:05 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pretty cool.

Lotta cornish game hen on the older menus. I like cornish game hen, they are like chickens but in a cute individual size. Why did people stop eating them?
posted by Ad hominem at 7:06 PM on January 28, 2012

"According to airline industry agreement, no more than two cocktails or highballs may be offered on each flight."

posted by redbeard at 7:53 PM on January 28, 2012

Oh nifty. Thanks for this Rykey.

Ad Hominem, Guinea Hens (Cornish Game Hens seems to be a PC term?) are a two serving dish, you glutton.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:57 PM on January 28, 2012

Nah, a guinea hen is a whole different bird. A Cornish game hen is just a young chicken.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:09 PM on January 28, 2012

People totally still eat Cornish hen. That was the meal at our wedding. Mmm, tiny drumsticks.
posted by Go Banana at 8:49 PM on January 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Awesome,all weddings should have cornish game hen.

I wonder if I can get a bunch of tiny drumsticks for buffalo Cornish game hen.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:54 PM on January 28, 2012

"Why did people stop eating them?"

I can actually get them in the freezer section at my supermarket (Kroger, nothing fancy). I've made them a few times, they tickle my husband's funny bone.

Also I love reading old menus even though they sometimes force me to have overly-themes dinner parties. Thanks!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:41 PM on January 28, 2012

Ooh, I love things like this.

The menu from Cunard looks to be a little bound book from the Queen Mary 2 of "Menus from your cruise" - maybe given as a souvenir? I wonder if they still do this.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:52 PM on January 28, 2012

Check out this Delmonico's menu from 1899. They serve 4 different varieties of duck, ducklings, squab, snipe, something called reed-birds, and plover. 9 different types of birds on one menu. My only guess is factory raised chicken made it too expensive or impractical to raise these birds and plover, while native to the east coast, is endangered. I am starting to believe we really are losing some of our culinary heritage.Not that it is a bad thing, if we can keep species like the plover from going extinct, but is is a little sad.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:22 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a great resource, I wish someone would make a tumblr style interface for it though.
posted by maize at 10:28 PM on January 28, 2012

Check out this Delmonico's menu from 1899.

Nikola Tesla would have been 43 at that time, likely during the period that he ate almost exclusively at Delmonico's. Supposedly he would go back into the kitchen and show them how to fillet one fragment of a tiny bird, for his rarefied delectation.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:34 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, here is an interview with Tesla at Delmonico's in 1894. Wonder what he thought of the plover.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:59 PM on January 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow - that interviewer is something special in the way of generalized misanthropy.

Most of Servia's modern babies might as well have avoided the annoyance of birth for all they can ever do in the world, but this baby is an exception.
posted by brennen at 2:37 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow: "For Roman Catholic passengers on Qantas flights, a special dispensation has been granted by the Sacred Congregation of the Council of the Holy See from the Law of Abstinence on Fridays and all other Obligatory Days." (1966).

Really? Why?
posted by lollusc at 3:27 AM on January 29, 2012

Really? Why?

Getting a favor from the Vatican was cheaper than figuring out how to stock a fish option?
posted by brennen at 4:34 AM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

You don't have to dial your time machine further than the 1980s to return to an era when flying cross-country was an essay in high style.

And I'm not talking about first class. I'm talking about coach, on an airline that, in recent years, rates near the bottom of most surveys: United.

See, the transcontinental Cal to NY route was the gem in the United crown, and coach passengers were wined and dined like rap stars or Kardashians. No menus, but everything you'd wish for. Unlimited free cocktails following take-off, then a lavish meal--my selection was usually canard a l'orange--complimented by a small carafe of white or red wine. A small bottle of Couvoisier VSOP always nestled behind the cutlery.

Free cocktails were available throughout the meal, and the flight crew, after lunch service was over, generally left an assortment of open bottles and mixers at the back of the plane--an open bar, in essence. You'd take your pack of cigarettes, and join the other degenerate flyers, and get your smoke and libation on at the galley in the stern. No IDs requested or required (a deal-sealer in my case).

Gourmet food. Free, unlimited booze. Pour-your-own service in the "smoking galley."
In coach. Included in the fare.
posted by Gordion Knott at 6:34 AM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Really? Why?

IIRC, because of potential Int'l Date Line confusion.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:39 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Included in the fare.

Out of curiosity, do you recall what the fare was?
posted by modernnomad at 8:05 AM on January 29, 2012

>Out of curiosity, do you recall what the fare was?

Unfortunately, I don't. But it's a sure bet that, adjusted for inflation, it was as much as two or three times higher--if not more--than the fare for the same trip today.

So the bottom line is this: Take the same meal, same booze, same Courvoisier purchased in a restaurant, add it to the price of a ticket today, and you're still far below the total outlay of the 1980s trip.

In fact, I've seen transcontinental flights in the 40s and 50s priced around $600 or so, in money of that era. You can take the same flight today for about the same numerical amount as the pre-inflation-adjusted fare of that period.

Flying today is effing cheap compared to the past. Effing, effing cheap. Something to think about while quaffing that $7 Budweiser.
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:18 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

According to wikipedia and its associated sources, in 1974 it was forbidden by law for an airline to charge any less than -- in 2011 dollars -- $1442 for the NYC/LA route.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:20 AM on January 29, 2012

I was a little worried by Demi-tasse of Pureed Mongol but apparently it's just a vegetable soup. Nobody knows where the name came from.
posted by nev at 8:29 AM on January 29, 2012

The difference between Purée Mongol and Puréed Mongol is pretty significant. Particularly if you come from Ulaanbaatar.
posted by howfar at 10:28 AM on January 29, 2012

Yes, flying is cheap now. And you get what you pay for.

That said, I got upgraded to first, once, and my age made the experience much less fun. As I sat there in a comfortable seat eating a free airplane meal (with metal cutlery out of a ceramic dish) while drinking a nice-ish wine out of a real wine glass, my only thought was "This is what coach used to be like..."
posted by jrochest at 10:56 PM on January 29, 2012

He [Tesla] is to the average electrician as Horace Greeley is to Bill Nye.

This is a deeply confusing image to present to someone who grew up in the 90s. (He probably means this Bill Nye.)
posted by kagredon at 12:16 AM on January 30, 2012

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