Curator’s Talk | Dining Out: Menus, Chefs, Restaurants, Hotels, & Guidebooks

Children's breakfast menu with blue and black illustrations of children and animals

Children's Menu by New York Central System (New York Central) 1952. Culinary menu: Travel, trains. Box m319. Special Collections Library, Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive.

In September, this blog highlighted the opening of Dining Out: Menus, Chefs, Restaurants, Hotels, & Guidebooks. Curated by donor and adjunct curator Jan Longone, Dining Out celebrates the history of the eating out experience with a display of over 300 menus and related materials from the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive (JBLCA). The Exhibit will be on display (Hatcher, 2nd floor) in the Clark Map Library through January 19, 2016. 

If you’ve enjoyed the exhibit (or you have yet to see it!), join us this Thursday, November 12th at 4:00 p.m. in the Hatcher Library Gallery for a lecture by Jan that will delve into the development, selection process, and contents of the exhibition. A nationally-renowned culinary historian, Jan has organized over a dozen exhibits at the University of Michigan and is delighted to bring her knowledge and experience to bear on the unique dimensions that dining outside the home adds to the food experience. Describing the Dining Out exhibit, she notes “One function...is to suggest the broad scope of the culinary archive: we set out to display as much variety as possible to as wide an audience as we could imagine. We tried to appeal to scholars, to food lovers, and to the general public.”

Menu illustrated with image of Paul Bunyan and his ox
Menu by Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Restaurant (Minocqua,Wis.), 1969. Culinary Menu: USA - Mid-West. Box M279. Special Collections Library, Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive.

​And indeed, the exhibition and lecture include something for everybody! Reaching far back into history, Jan will trace the long history of dining out guides from Classical Greece and Rome to the Michelin and Zagat Guides of the 20th century. Also of note is a copy of the rare guide, The Negro Motorist Green-Book. Bridging the United States from coast to coast, she will also speak on the long history of New York City chefs and restaurants, and the California Food Revolution, as embodied by Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters through their work at Chez Panisse. Notably, the Janice Bluestein Longone Archive (JBLCA) is home to Jeremiah Tower’s own collection of menus, including his annotated kitchen notebook from Chez Panisse, on display in the exhibit.

Another case study of broad interest will be the preservation of Catalan Cuisine over the past 50 years by key figures such as Jaume Subiros and Ferran Adria. Art lovers will enjoy learning about Catalan menus designed for El Motel Hotel and Restaurant in the town of Figures by surrealist artist Salvador Dali. The designs and dishes of American menus will also be addressed through a focus on regional restaurants, diners, cafes, saloons, and other dining establisments throughout the United States (on exhibit are menus from each of the 50 states!), including the history of restaurants here in Ann Arbor. And in case you are wondering what diners of the past consumed while en route from one state or country to another, menus featured on trains and ships will also be explored.

Poem "I Love the Train" on back of Children's menu, illustrated by train
Children's Menu by New York Central System (New York Central) 1952. Culinary menu: Travel, trains. Box m319. Special Collections Library, Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive.

In many cases, famous chefs have had significant impact on their societies beyond the realm of their kitchens and restaurants. Jan will share with us the stories of chefs from the 16th century to the present, including Bartolomeo Scappi, Marie-Antoine Carême, Auguste Escoffier, Alexis Benoit Soyer, Fernand Point, and Rick Bayless. From Scappi’s documentation of 16th century cooking equipment, to Soyer’s work to improve the health of soldiers in the Crimean war, these are chefs who have truly made a difference.

For all of this and more, join us on Thursday, November 12th at 4:00 p.m. in the Hatcher Library Gallery for an exciting journey into the rich history of menu and restaurants guided by the culinary expertise of Jan Longone.

Menu for Old Faithful Inn with National Park seal
Menu by "Old Faithful" Inn (Yellowstone Park, Wyo.) 1905. Culinary Menu: USA - West. Box M286. Special Collections Library, Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive.