Sections

Swine dining and Francophilia abound in Old Brooklyn cooking

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

What else would Whitman eat?

The menu at the newly opened Walt-Whitman-themed restaurant The Runner in Clinton Hill is meant to be a modern take on dishes that were prepared in the original Bard of Brooklyn’s day. We talked to a food historian and pulled some vintage menus out of the Brooklyn Public Library archive to see what other foods Brooklynites were packing in way back when.

The Runner got it right when it went seafood-heavy on its menu, especially when it comes to shellfish. The harbors in and around New York were long a major source of food for Brooklynites, according to a New York food historian.

“The average person ate oysters at least once a week,” said Sarah Lohman, author of the blog Four Pounds Flour, which focuses on historic recipes.

Restaurants in the 1850s and later were heavily influenced by French cooking, which was seen as the height of culinary excellence, according to Lohman.

“French cuisine was the go-to back then,” she said.

She also pointed out that in Brooklyn homes it was common for families to raise pigs because they were cheap and easy to care for.

The menus we pulled from the library’s Brooklyn Collection definitely have that French flair, but they contain few mentions of pork, perhaps because borough residents at the time were getting enough bacon at home.

Stand-out menus include a pair from the still-operating Montauk Club on Eighth Avenue in Park Slope. The menus are for a “Subscription Dinner” in 1894, five years after the club first opened, and include Shinnecock oysters, from Long Island, a turtle soup, and a spring lamb with mint sauce, which are not so far off from the kind of fare Slopers can feast on at the recently opened Grand Central Oyster Bar Brooklyn on Fifth Avenue. Also on the menu is a meat less often seen today, though the animals that carry it appear in abundance — squab, or as it is more commonly known, pigeon.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

MetroPlus Roosevelt Savings Bank Coney Island Hospital Brookdale VillageCareMax

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter:

Optional: