The relation between the Hotel Astor banquet menu and the times in which it was created can offer a deeper understanding of how certain dishes were prepared, and how they were served, in 1920 verses today. To create this connection, we have to look at the items on the menu itself. The dishes offered on the menu are in french, which can be inferred that the food is of french cuisine. During the 1920s, french cuisine was greatly influenced by a famous French chef, Georges Auguste Escoffier. Escoffier used techniques that achieved order in the kitchen and its dishes. This can signify why the menu has only specific plates and doesn’t offer many from which to choose from. From this, it can be seen how French chef Escoffier, influenced the way of dining in 1920 and that decade entirely. Instead of having a traditional menu, the French simplicity influenced order and less chaos in the kitchen, and in events like this banquet, and offers a great and simple selection of delicious plates.
The year 1920 was a very uprising year, where people were getting back to normality after the great influenza pandemic that killed millions of people around the world. Specifically, in the 1920s, the fourth wave of the influenza pandemic hit the City of New York, so the people were still getting out of their bubbles and emerging into the growing society and economy similar to what we are experiencing today with the coronavirus pandemic. Coming out of a pandemic in 1920 is unimaginable considering the difficulties we are still facing today, 100 year later. Getting back into society, dining and dancing, attending balls and banquets, after undergoing extreme stress, since the influenza first hit in 1918 must have been odd, at first, especially at the start of the year, January 12, 1920, when a banquet hosted at the Hotel Astor took place.
The Hotel Astor was very well-known in the 1920s era. It was gaining more and more fame with the years, hosting banquets, opening a garden rooftop, mixing dining with dancing; it was all very exciting and new.
Within these banquets held at the Hotel Astor, was a particular one that occurred and was tendered to a Mr. Sidney Goldberg. He was the Vice President of the Greater New York Cigar Association, hence the banquet in his name.
The menu itself had such deliciously sounding dishes despite it being in another language. Starting with some oysters from Cape Cod and a mushroom veloute served with celery, olives, and salted nuts. These starters seem very common even 100 years later. Oysters became extremely popular in the 19th century, and throughout the years and advancements in food preservation and technologies they could be easily exported to other areas of the America’s. So, it would be a very common starter dish to have in the 20th century and surprisingly still to this day. Oysters of any kind are delicious, in my personal opinion! The mushroom veloute is different than just a regular cream of mushroom because it uses a veloute, which is a mix of butter-flour roux and poultry stock, influenced by the great chef Escoffier. These are some starters that are still served in very famous restaurants today in the same way as they were in 1920.
As for the main dishes, the Hotel Astor banquet served dishes that seem very elaborated by the french cuisine and are still seen around menu’s today. The 1920s marks the beginning of modern cooking with new technological advances, like electricity and natural gas being introduced into the kitchens in people’s residencies. In the Hotel Astor, as a modern hotel in its time, the kitchen was considered to be a new evolved kitchen. The difference between the plate being served in front of you in the banquet in 1920 verses being served in front of you at any restaurant today is that the way it was prepared in 1920 was the beginning of the evolved modernization that we see in kitchens now in the 21st century.
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