Summer (Cooking) School, Part 5: All About the Bubbles

This week’s lesson is a sweet (and bubbly) one! If you’re remotely into food history, you’re probably aware that perspectives change, often rapidly. What’s good for us one day is bad the next (and may be good again next week). When it comes to carbonated beverages (aka soda), well, there’s definitely some history there. This week, our post features two pamphlets from American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages. Admittedly, they have certain bias, but they also offer a fascinating perspective on a time when soda didn’t have the reputation it might today. First up, there’s “Delightful Recipes with Carbonated Beverages.”

While “Delightful Recipes” isn’t dated, it’s probably from around the same time period as our second pamphlet, “Sparkling Party Recipes,” which comes from 1955.

There are a lot of interesting things to note about both of these pamphlets. We can start with the obvious–the recipes–which go beyond what you might expect. There aren’t just punches. You’ll also find salads (with and without gelatin, our constant friend), desserts, and even a sauce or two. There are also a handful of others recipes that don’t contain carbonated beverages–probably a good thing, since I’m not sure I want to know how one works ginger ale into a frosted sandwich…

There are plenty of party hints and party themes for the hostess looking to impress, too. Bringing bottled drinks on a picnic? Put a dish full of ice at the bottom of the basket to keep them cold. Want to coordinate your food and drink? Try dressing up your sandwiches and drink bottles (though that image of grinning food and beverages is a little creepy)! Want to confuse your taste buds? Freeze cubes of one flavor and pour another flavor over them!

And then there’s the health information, which was my point from the beginning. Both of these pamphlets spend time on the benefits and nutritional value of carbonated beverages. “Sparkling Party Recipes” includes a page about how carbonated drinks are used in hospitals. “Delightful Recipes” notes that:

Carbon dioxide has a peculiar dietetic value. Medical authorities point out that, when taken internally, it acts as a digestive stimulant, increases appetite and promotes absorption of food…The energy in bottled carbonated beverages comes from the pure sugars used.

This pamphlet also offers a list of “noted authorities who have put on record their statements as to the health value of carbonated beverages.” The statements were available by writing to the sponsor, the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages. And, no doubt, solicited by them for just this purpose. In any case, this touting of the health benefits seems a bit different from arguments today about the high amounts of sugar and sugar alternatives in modern sodas.

Both of these pamphlets are part of the Culinary Pamphlet Collection (Ms2011-002), which we’ve highlighted before. However, it’s an ever-expanding collection and there are always new items to share. With about a month before the students come back, our “Summer Cooking School” lessons will continue for a little longer. Then I’ll have to find some new historic items to share. Until then, remember carbonated beverages aren’t just for the glass. They can be the highlight of any party…or hot weekend (like the one we’re headed for here in Blacksburg).

Summer (Cooking) School, Part 4: Back to Basics

This week in our summer cooking school series, we’re taking a step back to the basics, encyclopedia-style!

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But don’t worry, it’s not just for grocers! This encyclopedia is packed with dictionary-definition terms and history, multi-lingual lists of foods, and black & white and full color illustrations. While it would certainly be useful for those in the food trade, it’s just as useful for the home cook who might be encountering something new or who wants to learn more about a common ingredient.

In addition to the strictly A-Z listing of grocery-related foods, the encyclopedia also includes 7 appendices. These include a 5-language “dictionary of food names,” short foreign language-to-English dictionaries (French, German, Italian, and Swedish), a list of culinary and menu terms, and a weights and measures table.

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Page from “Dictionary of Food Names in Five Languages”

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Sample page from Swedish-English dictionary of foods.

I’m still pondering the Swedish section. While I can see the common usage for the French, German, and Italian language sections, I’m curious about how much need there was for Swedish language food terms in 1911. Which sent me off to see if I could find anything out about the history of this publication. Artemas Ward, the author, first published a book in 1882 called The Grocer’s HandbookA desire to improve on this first work led to a nearly 30 year side project of expanding it into The Grocer’s Encyclopedia. Ward was an author of biographies, journal publisher, and advertising executive in his daily life. And, it seems, we can credit him with the idea of putting advertising on public transit vehicles. There wasn’t too much to find on Ward, though what there was suggests he was a man of many projects and occupations. But, it didn’t bring me any closer to an explanation for the Swedish-English section. Some publishing mysteries aren’t easily solved…

The entire encyclopedia is online through Special Collections–all 748 pages of it! (We could barely begin to represent it here.) Sure, it may not have EVERYTHING, but between abalone and zwetschenwasser (the German name for “slivovitz,” a European liqueur made from plums), there’s quite a bit to discover.

Summer (Cooking) School, Part 3: The Story of Meat

Honestly, I couldn’t come up with a title that was better than the actual title of the book we’re looking at this week. The Story of Meat basically says it all, doesn’t it? (It doesn’t…but luckily we have the book for plenty of answers and stories!)

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Right off the bat, the frontispiece will catch your attention. While there are plenty more pictures, diagrams, and drawings to come, this is actually the only color one–sadly. Still, it’s not exactly where you might expect a book on meat to start–with the transport of pickled beef. TX373H51942_tp

Anyway, The Story of Meat was first published in 1939; our edition is from 1942. This is another one of those volumes that’s part text book/educational resource, part history, part…well, something else entirely. First, it covers a LOT of topics in its 291 pages as you can see from the table of contents. Seriously, from our early hunting ancestors to 1940s job opportunities in the meat industry, there’s commentary here.

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It was hard to pick some favorite pages from the many, but I did manage a few, including this spread from the chapter on the western frontier:

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At first, I was so intrigued by the quote about the “woven bravery and of cowardice, of heroic generosity and sordid thievery (what lower creature in the ranch-lands than the cattle-thief?), of gentleness, murder, and sudden death…” I missed the map for a moment. But, if you’ve ever been curious about cattle trails–ta da! Or, wondering about the grading system for beef? There’s help for that, too!

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Like some of the other educational volumes we’ve highlighted so far this summer, each of these chapters concludes with a series of questions about the content. The page below comes from the end of the chapter of selling meat in a retail setting.

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To be sure, there’s a fair amount of meat propaganda here (which is hardly surprising). There’s a whole chapter on the importance of meat in the diet. Questions at the end of this chapter include things like “Why is it inadvisable to exclude meat from the human diet?” and “Is meat a necessary part of the diet of children? Of office workers? Why?” Clearly, the answer to the latter set is not meant to be a “No.”  This chapter is full of two page illustrations, showing the various cuts from animals and how to cook them. It’s also got charts on wholesale versus resale cuts and some depicting the protein, calories, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, and vitamins in meat compared to other foods.TX373H51942_237 TX373H51942_260

While I don’t think we should necessarily be surprised by the propaganda itself, it can raise an interesting question about timing. The first edition of this book came out in 1939, but by 1942, when this edition was published, the war had started and rationing was becoming a growing practice in the United States and abroad. Yet, from what I can tell, there’s little to no mention of those concerns in the book. I should also mention that “meat” is predominantly used to refer to cattle in most of the book, but there are sections, as you may notice above, that tackle sheep, pigs, poultry, and indirectly, dairy, too. In other words, quite a versatile manual. The only thing that really seems to be missing are recipes. The authors cover cooking techniques, but don’t offer specifics. I guess that’s more the purview of the cookbook, not the history/textbook…

We haven’t digitized all of our copy (yet?), but the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has and you can view it on the Internet Archive if you can’t visit us in person. The Story of Meat, by the way, is just the start of our meat-related publications. And if you’re more interested in the opposite site, we have a few titles on vegetarianism that you might also want to sink your teeth into. Until our next lesson, remember to keep your cattle safe. After all, there’s nothing worse than a cattle-thief…right?

Summer (Cooking) School, Part 2: Canning and Preserving

Picking up on the theme from earlier this month, I thought it might be fun to continue some cooking school lessons over the summer. So, this week, we’re looking at Ola Powell’s Successful Canning and Preserving; Practical Hand Book for Schools, Clubs, and Home Use, published in 1917.

Each chapter includes a LOT of informational content, but each is also punctuated by photographs and illustrations throughout. Since the book is really designed to be a lesson book, though not exactly a text book, it does come complete with built-in quizzes. The end of every chapter includes a list of questions about the content, so you can make sure that learning has really soaked in and been preserved (pun intended, of course). The chapters cover the foods you would expect: fruits, veggies, pickles and relishes, jellies, preserves/conserves/marmalades, and fruit juices. But it also includes chapters on the history and safety of canning and preserving, techniques, drying foods for preservation, canning as a business, and teaching canning.

The diversity of this content is an important reflection on the significance of canning and food preservation. It was a necessity for feeding a family, but it was also a social activity, a profit-making opportunity, and clearly integrated into many aspects of domestic and home life, whether rural or urban.

Ola Powell was an extension agent by training and that surely shows. In addition to the many editions of Successful Canning and Preserving; Practical Hand Book for Schools, Clubs, and Home Use, between the mid 1910s- and the early 1940s, she also authored or co-authored works on a variety of other topics, including making and caring for mattresses and bedding, sewing, plants and plant diseases, home demonstration work, and farm and garden management.

You can find Successful Canning and Preserving; Practical Hand Book for Schools, Clubs, and Home Use in its entirely among the scanned books from Special Collections online. You know, in case you’re looking for a good mushroom ketchup recipe or a few trivia questions on the advantages of canning in tin versus glass.

Until our next summer school lesson, stay cool and enjoy something tasty…

Food in the News: Terroir (#4)

Late last week, NPR’s blog, The Salt ran a story about wine and terroir. “Terroir” is one of those beverage buzzwords that you might or might not have heard and might or might not know. The article, “Demystifying Terroir: Maybe It’s the Microbes Making Magic in Your Wine” offers a good background on the word and the concept as it relates to wine.  The general idea is that grapes and a wine, as a result, are influenced by a number of environmental and soil factors from the slope of a hill, the angle of sunlight on the plants, the amount of rainfall, and more. The article looks more specifically that even the local fungi and microbes may have an effect on the taste of a wine, too. However, it isn’t just wine that is influenced by the oh-so-subtle-factors of plant-based alcohols–think about the soil beneath hops that contribute to a beer or the elevation of the land on which agave grows before it becomes part of a tequila.

The idea of “terroir,” though, doesn’t stop there. At the local cheese festival here in Blacksburg two weeks ago, there was a talk/tasting on wine and cheese pairings. (And, since I’m often to be found where there’s one of those ingredients, you can bet I was there for both!) It certainly wasn’t surprising that the word came up, but it was fascinating to hear how much one of the experts had to say about the terroir of cheese and how much the locality in which it was produced can effect the food itself. While there’s an argument for consistency in a food product (whatever it is), there’s an argument for individuality, local influence, and terroir of a food, too. Just something to consider next time you’re in the farmers’ market, the co-op, or at a local farm.

Summer (Cooking) School is in Session, Part 1: A Few Food Lessons in Domestic Science

The spring semester is over, but summer school has begun here at Virginia Tech. If that reminds us of anything, it’s that we’re ALWAYS learning. So, this week, we’re looking at Twenty Lessons in Domestic Science by Marian Cole Fisher, published in 1916. We won’t look at all 20 (and honestly, we almost weren’t going make it past the awesome diagrams in Lesson One!), but we may also revisit this book in the future!

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There are a few pages before the actual lessons start, covering basics like cooking methods, budgeting, and rationing (although not in the war-time sense we’ll see this concept used staring the following year during World War I). And, there’s a table of “Important Equivalents to Memorize.”

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Then there’s Lesson Number One: Function of Foods. Which includes some awesome charts from the USDA

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And here are a few pages from Lesson Number Three: Cakes and Their Process, which is where we start to get to some actual recipes!

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If you’re interested in the rest of the lessons, you can see this item in its entirety on Special Collection’s digital platform. It was part the more than 200 titles relating to food history that have been digitized. We also have two copies of the print volume in the collection, too, if you want to see it in person. (Or, you can wait and see if we add some more in the future!) For now, just remember it’s 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder to 1 cup of flour for your biscuits, muffins, and quick breads. Oh, and frosting goes well on just about anything sweet–right?:)

A Monday Morning Recipe (#5) (& a Note on Summer Posts)

Summer (which isn’t even here yet!) is turning out to be busier than expected, so it looks like I may be posting features on a bi-monthly basis over the next few months, but I’m trying to get back on track with Monday quotes, news, and recipes.

Lately, I’ve been diving into a couple of culinary topics to help some researchers. Among other things, it’s led me to the topic of/ingredient Crisco, which is a staple in my baking pantry (which, to be honest, is the most substantial part of my pantry). These two recipes come from the 1948 edition of “New Recipes for Good Eating,” a Proctor & Gamble publication. It’s 112 pages of Crisco recipes, from frying to breads to pastry to cakes and cookies. Pretty versatile, huh?

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“They call for dates and quinces in the pastry”: A Shakespeare Luncheon

Apologies for the lack of a post last week, but even with the end of the spring semester and the lull before summer, things were quite hectic here in Special Collections. We were moving to a new software tool that should help us provide new and better access to collections and materials (yay!) and we’re still going to be working through that transition during the summer ahead. And, of course, last Thursday, I wasn’t actually anywhere near my office during the time I usually write blog posts. “Why?” you may ask.

Well, I was occupied with some outreach of a culinary and literary nature. The Old Guard Reunion was in full swing and with a luncheon themed around Shakespeare, where else would you find me but peddling tales and receipts? I did manage a few pictures of the items I brought:

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It was a different combination of things: books about medieval cookery, a handful of modern cookbooks, some books and items about Shakespeare, and a few folio sized leaves from individual plays. Although Shakespeare doesn’t have many lengthy passages about food, specific items and dishes, as well as metaphors, lines, and advice about dining appear throughout his plays. (“They call for dates and quinces in the pastry,” in the title of this post, for example, comes from Romeo and Juliet, Act IV, Scene iv.)

All in all, it was a good chance to meet some new folks and talk about Special Collections (which we know I can go on about for a while)!

 

Revisiting the History of Food & Drink Collection

So, for a little while now, two of us in Special Collections have been mulling over a History of Food & Drink Collection-related idea (pun intended, of course). I’m rather excited that this idea has stuck and we’re creating a new subset of the overarching collection. Back to that in just a moment! (Today’s post isn’t going to a feature an item, but I hope you’ll stick with us!)

There’s a long history the collection, some of which we’ve talked about on the blog before, but it’s been a quite some time. Today, in light of what else I have to share, it seems like a good time to talk about the current structure of the collection. Not to mention the fact that I’m working on some new paragraphs about all of our collecting areas (and sub-collecting areas) in Special Collections–which means I have nice, neat descriptions on hand!


Neil, Marion Harris. 1917. Ryzon baking book: a practical manual for the preparation of food requiring baking powder. New York: General Chemical Co., Food Dept.

Neil, Marion Harris. 1917. Ryzon baking book: a practical manual for the preparation of food requiring baking powder. New York: General Chemical Co., Food Dept.

History of Food & Drink Collection

If we take a step back and look at things from a larger perspective, the University Libraries are home to what we now call the History of Food & Drink Collection. (This had previously been known as the Culinary History Collection.)  To date, the HFD Collection, as I often refer to it, contains 4,900+ cataloged publications. I’m very pleased to say that number is actually over the 5,000 mark if you count items waiting to be cataloged or in process! About 30% of the HFD Collection resides in the circulating collection of Newman Library or in off-site storage and can be checked out for use. The other 70% is housed in Special Collections. In addition, Special Collections has 75 processed manuscript collections and another 40 more in the processing queue. All things considered, those are some numbers I’m proud of! Here’s what it’s all about.

The History of Food & Drink Collection consists of several focused subsets and a variety of other collecting areas. Subsets of the collection include the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Collection, the Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Collection, the History of the American Cocktail Collection, and the Food Technology and Production Collection. In addition, the History of Food & Drink Collection contains publications and manuscripts documenting or representing early American imprints, Virginia/regional/southern cooking, food technology and processing, community cookbook, nutrition and dietetics history, household management, domestic/economic/social history, food customs and habits, and home demonstration/home economics history and agricultural extension. Materials from the History of Food & Drink Collection also overlap with other collecting areas in which Special Collections is particular interested, like local/regional history, the American Civil War, and science and technology history. We are actively engaged in acquiring new items that contribute to this collection and can serve as primary and secondary sources for research in a variety of fields that study aspects of food and food culture.

This section includes hotel and periodical cookbooks, and even a book on the history of WW I and II army dietitians.

This section includes hotel and periodical cookbooks, and even a book on the history of WW I and II army dietitians.

Subset #1:

Peacock-Harper Culinary History Collection

Of course, the HFD collection started with the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Collection. The Peacock-Harper Culinary History Collection is a group of 750 published works documenting more than three centuries of culinary history. It consists of the private collections of Dora Greenlaw Peacock and Laura Jane Harper, acquired by Special Collections in 1999/2000. The collection includes a wide variety of contemporary and historic cookbooks, community cookbooks, household management guides, and home economics/domestic science manuals. As a result, the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Collection represents many perspectives on the history of cooking, social and cultural practices, and food science. Although this is not a collection to which new materials are added, it was the inspiration behind the History of Food & Drink Collection and remains the core of the larger collection.

The whole slideshow can be viewed and downloaded here: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/faculty_archives/hertzler/hertzler_child_nutrition.html

The whole slideshow can be viewed and downloaded here: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/faculty_archives/hertzler/hertzler_child_nutrition.html

Subset #2:

Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Collection

Then, a few years later, a new subset of the collection arrived on the scene! Beginning in 2006, Special Collections received an endowment from Dr. Ann Hertzler to acquire publications relating to children’s cookbooks and items documenting nutrition history. The Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Collection contains more than 500 volumes. Highlights include manuals for young mothers, guides on proper eating for children, Virginia Cooperative Extension pamphlets, books designed to education children about cooking (and eating!), and themed cookbooks. Dr. Hertzler remained a strong supporter of and contributor to her collection and the History of Food & Drink Collection until her death in early 2014, through the continued donation of books and her personal papers. Today, the endowment continues to fund the purchase of new and historic cookbooks for children, publications focused on the raising, feeding, and nutrition of children and families, and storybooks that feature food products, food advertising, and food history.

Front cover

Subset #3:

History of the American Cocktail Collection

By the end of 2011, we were working on a new crazy idea: cocktails! There is a whole amazing history there and we wanted to find a way to be part of documenting it. As a result, we launched a new subset of materials.

The History of the American Cocktail Collection includes more than 125 cocktail manuals and bartenders guides, books on social activities and entertaining, and a variety of items documenting the history of cocktail ingredients, cocktail creation, and cocktail consumption, as well as around 20 manuscript collections. The collection also contains materials on individual spirits, the medicinal and alcoholic history of bitters, temperance/Prohibition, and advertising ephemera. The cocktail—and spirits generally—have played a significant role in American history, experience revolution, prohibition, and revival. We are interested in acquiring and adding books, manuscripts, documents, and occasionally artifacts, which contribute to the scholarship around the ever-evolving place of the cocktail in food and social history.

Scarff's nursery, fruit, farm seed, live stock, 1931

Scarff’s nursery, fruit, farm seed, live stock, 1931

Announcing Subset #4:

Food Technology and Production Collection

All of that brings us to today. As you may know, our university’s history is that of a land-grant. We were and continue to have a focus on agriculture. We have the Virginia Cooperative Extension. We have a food science program and courses in wine and beer. So, by late 2015, we were pondering a new scheme: a subset of the collection that would benefit researchers in these, as well as other areas.After spending some time working on a name and goals for what we want to accomplish and support with future materials, we are excited to share with everyone our newest subset of the HFD Collection.

The Food Technology and Production Collection brings together aspects of agriculture, Cooperative Extension, and the history of changes to the growth, production, marketing, sale, transportation, preparation, and consumption of food. We are interested in acquiring books and other publications, manuscripts, and ephemera that document the agricultural, commercial, and scientific lives of foods and how these processes have evolved over time. We realize that changes in the way we produce and consume foods occur organically, as a direct result of human interaction and advances in technology, and because of continuing changes within the cycle. Our goal is to help support research being done in the fields like history, food science, English, material and cultural studies, and human nutrition.


We are already on the lookout for new acquisitions that will fit into this subset (along with the materials we are always seeking for the rest of the HFD Collection!). At the same time, one of my goals for the summer will be identifying materials we already have in the HFD Collection that we can make a part of the Food Technology and Processing Collection subset, too. Hopefully, as I find some of those items, they will be features over the next few months, and place where we can all get to know the food technology and production a little better.

Apologies for the lack of a feature this week, but as the semester comes to a close and summer is before us, it seemed like a good time to share this exciting news about a new initiative! We hope you’ll come along for the ride and learn with us about where agriculture, Extension, food science, and food history collide.

Charles Fellows: Menu Maker…and Menu Collector!

This week, we’re looking at a title that had been on my running list of things to share on the blog. I don’t remember how it got on the list or indeed, how I came across the title in the first place, but, with more than 4,700 titles in the History of Food & Drink Collection, that can be the case a lot of the time. If you look at the catalog record for this week’s feature, it reads Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants… When you get to the title page, we may have a new competitor for longest title:

Fellows' Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants..., 1910

Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants…, 1910

So, that’s Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants, with Object of the Changing from Day to Day to Give Continuous Variety of Foods in Season. A Reminder for the Breakfast, Luncheon, Dinner, and Supper Cards, Together with Brief Notations of Interest to the Proprietor, Steward, Headwaiter and Chef. An Exposition of Catering Ideas Calculated to Popularize Public Dining Halls…A Chapter Devoted to the Most Popular Soups, Fish, Boiled Meats, Roasts and Entrees. Also a Department for Banquet Bills of Fare and Suggestions for Dinner Party Menus…The Book Supplemented with an Exposition of Menus and Editorial Matter Relating to Menu Compilation Reprinted from The Hotel Monthly.  

Fellows compiled a book that contained notes on menu planning from his experience combined with menus from other restaurants, short articles of food related interest, and even a few cartoons. On the whole, an interesting mix.

Although Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants… is the only of Fellows’ titles in our collection, he was the author of two other books: A Selection of Dishes and the Chef’s Reminder: A High Class Culinary Text Book and The Culinary Handbook. (On a side note, this Charles Fellows shouldn’t be confused with Sir Charles Fellows, an archaeologist and traveler who was somewhat more prolific, which WorldCat kept trying to do to me, when I well knew the difference!) Fellows did his research and must have reached out to many colleagues to solicit content.

While we don’t know much about its reception at the time, from a historical perspective, this book gives us all kinds of exciting background. It tells us about what restaurants were serving and how, it can give us a comparison between restaurants whose menus were printed here, it gives us insight into some business practices (there’s a short article about how to keep wait staff from “short checking,” for example), and it shows us an economic snapshot of different types of restaurants from the period. Plus, it’s just plain interesting!

Since it was published in 1910, it is out of copyright now. You can visit us to look at our copy, but if you’re not nearby, you can also find it online through Cornell University’s Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition and History (HEARTH). You know, for all your hotel menu planning needs.:)

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