Christmas Dinner on the Rails

Christmas generally takes us to Maryland. While the Amtrak train I take travels over the Pennsylvania Railroad into Baltimore’s Penn Station, here’s a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Royal Blue Line menu from Christmas Day, 1900.

The selections are fun and shine in comparison to what you can have on Amtrak today. Would you trust an oyster onboard Amtrak? Creme Yvette is a violet liqueur that incorporates blackberries, red raspberries, cassis, wild strawberries, orange peel, vanilla, and honey. Originally made in Connecticut in 1890, it was revived after a 40 year hiatus in 2009; it is currently made in Bordeaux, France.  The fresh lettuce and tomato salad, as well as the out-of-season eggplant and strawberries, already indicates the extent that the railroad was playing in shipping fresh vegetables from the South northward year-round, already suppressing seasonal eating. But nothing says Maryland like baked shad.

Wonder what was flavoring the Tuitti Fruitti Ice Cream? Merry Christmas.

What’s On the Menu? project, New York Public Library. Call Number 1900-5104.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.

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