As I was searching our archives, I found numerous references to various parties and events which MedChi and its members had hosted through the years. Certainly what we ate then and what we eat now are completely different. And of course, what we know about healthy eating, drinking and lifestyles is diametrically opposed to what we thought and did 100+ years ago.
This is the menu from the dinner. It featured many Maryland specialties of the day, including Turtle Soup (most likely Maryland Terrapin) and Crab Salad. The Saratoga Chips are actually a predecessor of what we now know as regular potato chips.
In addition to the dinner, there is wine with every course, and then breaks for cigarettes and cigars. There’s a reference to Cardinal Punch which is made with claret, brandy, dark rum, champagne, orange slices, and pineapple slices! How anyone would even be able to make it through the remaining courses after that is quite beyond me!
In a small program from the “Monthly Medical Reunion, Founded in 1881” dated January, 1956, the 75th Anniversary of the group, there are several paragraphs discussing the food at these meetings, which were held at private homes. To quote J. A. Chatard, M.D.:
As you know, the original founders entertained with a late supper to be enjoyed after a hard day’s work. Then, as close friends, intimate and lively discussions could take place, accompanied by some delicious food, that each member prized as originating in his kitchen, under the supervision of a devoted wife, and the “old bandana crowned” cook who felt her corn pone, beaten biscuits, spoon bread, muffins and Sally Lunn much better than other cooks.
There was always one “Specialite de la maison” looked forward to by all the members. In those days, our seafood was varied and delicious, with oysters in many ways (pickled was a special dish), fish, crabs and occasionally the rules were broken by terrapin, slipping in through the door. Games was plentiful also, and not expensive. Quail, grouse and prairie chicken [a large grouse, now extinct] could be found on the table hot (broiled or stewed with celery) or even more delicious, when covered by a thick gelatinous gravy, solidified and covering the tender meat.
Another dish (Specialite) was a mound of calf’s head, with sweetbreads around the base, and the calf’s eyes decorating the top. The cold dish at the other end of the table was so-called “hogs-head cheese” requiring some days to prepare, the finished product being a clear gelatinous mound showing the piece of pork through the jellied dish.
Nowdays, our menus are a little tamer with each committee having their favorite dinner on order.