Vintage Menus


There are so many interesting artifacts of bygone eras.  Vintage menus are one type of artifact that I find intriguing.

My enthusiasm for the RMS Queen Mary (read more on the luxury cruise liner here) has me searching the Internet for interesting artifacts from her voyages.  Menus from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, provide a rare glimpse of what diners on the Queen Mary would have enjoyed.


The courses offered included a couple of courses that are seldom seen these days.  Releve, a second meat course, and a farinaceous, a starch course or pasta, are relics just like the menus themselves.


With so many options, I imagine the portions were much smaller than what we see served at restaurants today.  When considering the average weight of an American then compared to now, they must have stopped at a small taste of each course.


I am always fascinated with how movie stars and royalty of that era stayed so fit and trim.  What secrets did they have that were never shared with the rest of us?  But I digress!


My mother collected menus from her travels with my dad.  Recently, I ran across a menu from a restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The colorful artwork on the front is eye-catching.  I wish the menu was dated, but it was obviously from a long time ago.  The most expensive item on the menu was a T-bone steak for $3!  And the telephone number was only five digits.


Although I could not place them in order to share a photo, I have menus from when my parents took a cruise to Hawaii in the 1960s as well as menus from when they went to Europe in the 1980s.  They are really cool mementos of their trips, but  my mom did not specifically collect menus.


I knew a lady who did collect menus.  Whenever she and her husband enjoyed a wonderful dining experience, they would ask for a menu (preferably autographed by the chef).  At home, they would have it framed.  A wall of their dining room featured framed menus that served as reminders of special nights, wonderful meals, and vacations.  What a wonderful way to relive these memories every time they used their dining room!


I like to search for long forgotten recipes that I find on old menus or to get my own menu inspiration from these offerings.  They are a great source for menu ideas for retro parties (what better way to serve a ’60s dinner, than to use a menu from the ’60s as a resource)!


What do you think about collecting menus?  Do you or anyone you know collect them or keep them as souvenirs (with permission, of course)?

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