The New Crosby Hotel wished a “Merry Christmas” to the people of Beaumont and invited them to dinner on Dec. 25, 1903, charging them $1 per plate, according to a note written by a guest at the time who tucked it into a menu from the occasion and sent it to the hotel manager almost 41 years later, apparently as a keepsake. “Mr. W.M Casey, mgr, New Crosby Hotel. Dear Sir, I am sending you a menu of a Christmas dinner served for $1.00 per plate. I was at that time headquartering at the Crosby House. Sam Gastrell and I lived in Room #46. Yours truly, W. Maines Cochran.” The penmanship on the handwritten note is less-than-readable when it comes to deciphering the companies for which the two men worked. Toward the close of the message, Cochran told Casey he returned to his hometown of Waco. If Cochran and Gastrell dined in the Crosby for Christmas dinner, Cochran did not mention it. If they had, they would have been served a meal to delight early 20th century gastronomes and horrify weight-watchers of today.
Chef Charles Duit, a culinary arts instructor at Lamar University’s Hospitality Program, estimated such a meal might cost $150 per person today if it were to be recreated. “It’s not a cheap menu at all,” he said. And it’s before we thought anything about calories, nutrition or fats.” The menu runs at least four courses, from appetizer to dessert with two entrees, a “palate cleanser,” and a third entree in between. Let’s say you brought your appetite to the Crosby. Here’s what you would encounter – with Chef Duit’s comments on some of the offerings: Oysters on the half shell, queen olives, celery, caviar canape, salted almonds, cheese straws, consomme aux quenelles, green turtle a la Windsor and petits patte a la Ruschell. Duit said the consomme aux quenelles is a clear broth, but the quenelles probably mean a kind of mousse – chicken, perhaps – formed with a spoon into a shape similar to a small football and poached.
The “green turtle a la Windsor” also more than likely is another soup, he said. The “petits patte a la Ruschell” – and it’s anyone’s guess who Ruschell was – probably refers to little herb cakes or pies. Let’s bring on some protein.Next we have “broiled Spanish mackarel, maitre d’ hotel.” It’s the menu’s spelling of mackerel, so we’re going with that. The “maitre d’ hotel” refers to butter compounded with parsley, garlic and herbs, melting on top of the dish as it’s served at the table.
The Crosby got its hands on “stuffed mangoes” to serve with the Spanish mack along with “potatoes, en Bordure,” which could mean mashed potatoes piped around the mackerel, bordering it. All right, we’ve put all of that away. Now it’s time to get down to the roast prime rib of beef with the Yorkshire pudding, which is made from the roasted beef drippings mixed with bread and eggs with a consistency like dressing, Duit said. With the beef dish comes mashed potatoes, French peas and candied sweet potatoes. The Crosby’s guests also could lay into a roast young turkey with chestnut dressing, cranberry sauce, cauliflower in cream and asparagus with drawn butter, which is slowly melted with the impurities filtered out. Something richer for your palate, perhaps? Tuck into the breast of domestic duck, larded with olives. That means for every slice you get of duck breast, you will find olives have been poked into it, Duit said. For the truly adventurous, make room on your plate for the “braised veal sweetbreads, a la Batson.” As many might be aware, veal is very young calf, still nursing on its mother’s milk and likely has never seen the light of day. We aren’t talking about “sweetened breads,” either. “Sweetbreads” are the thymus gland, Duit said. “Most people have a hard time eating it,” he said. “I’ve not had it for eight or 10 years. I had it flown in for a friend and prepared it for a Christmas meal. If it’s not cooked properly, it could be very chewy.” After all the richness, it’s time to cleanse the palate. These were in the days before sorbets, so let’s knock back a “creme de menthe frappe” and chase it with lemon Nabisco. Maybe it’s time for a little stretch and amble over to someone else’s table. On their plate might be our final entree, a roast leg of venison with currant jelly with some orange salad and lettuce with French dressing.
Who’s up for dessert?
The Crosby Hotel invites you to dig into English plum pudding with hard sauce or brandy sauce. The “pudding” is more of a solid mountain of plum, raisins, currants, citron, candied fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, Cognac, sherry, eggs and sugar, Duit said. “It’s pretty dense,” he said. And the sauce? Butter, sugar, booze. No? How about hot mince pie, banana cream meringue pie, chocolate ice cream, assorted cake, maraschino jelly, fruit, mixed nuts, raisins, Roquefort and Swiss cheese and “Toasted Bent’s Crackers.” And coffee to fight off your oncoming food coma. Merry Christmas, from Hageman & Kidd, proprietors. That closes the book on the New Crosby’s menu of 1903 at its Crockett and Orleans five-story hotel, which closed its doors in 1973 and finally was torn down in 1976.
Source : beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/1-Hotel-holiday-dinner-from-1903-would-be-about-5087992.php