Eating Habits in America in the 1900s

immigration

During the 1900s there were many changes to the foods that Americans ate in comparison to the Victorian era.  Many factors influenced these changes.  Here is an overview of the factors that influenced the food that was eaten in America during the 1900s.

Immigration

There was a great deal of immigration of people from all over the globe during this period.  They introduced new concepts, flavours, spices and ingredients that were not commonly used in American cooking or were never used. Majority of these immigrants moved to urban areas of America and some chose to set up businesses, often restaurants.  This brought multi-cultural food to the general public. For example, during the early twentieth century, many people came from Italy to America.  In 1905 in New York City, the first ever Italian Pizzeria was opened. 

Government Intervention

In 1906, the US government introduced the Food and Drugs Act.  This meant that all meat products were inspected as part of Federal Law.  Also, adulterated products could not be manufactured, sold or transported in America.

Home Economics Education

During the Victorian era, there was a huge push on educating young women in home economics and nutrition science, with the aim of improving people’s knowledge of health and nutrition.  This education continued into the early twentieth century and influenced ideas about food preparation, the use of ingredients and food safety. Many women who had studied the subject at school went out into the community to work closely with families, particularly those who were poor, to share their knowledge and educate others. 

Science and Technology

One of the greatest factors that changed the ways that Americans ate between 1900 and 1910 was the innovations of science and technology.  It was no longer necessary to eat only seasonal food as it could now be shipped in from other areas or grown in America.  The advances came in the form of increased transportation, better food preservation and improved food storage options.  The introduction of electricity in urban homes around this time also influenced how people stored and prepared their meals.

Business Expansion

During the 1900’s, the American market became flooded with new businesses and brands that were supplying food for the masses.  Many of these came in the form of tinned/ canned or dried foods.  Major names that came into play during this era, and are still well known today, include Quaker Oats and Campbell’s.

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REVIEW: Cafe Rouge, York

cafe rouge

I recently booked a night away in York with my partner and without our children. One of the things I was looking forward to the most was our evening meal as I had been told the options for eating out were excellent and there are many outstanding restaurants in York. Having never visited this city before, I wanted to take my time choosing where to eat so we took a stroll through the city centre reading menus as we went along and looking into the restaurants trying to find somewhere with a good atmosphere. We finally returned almost to the beginning of our trek to eat at one of the first restaurants we had seen- Cafe Rouge.

The Venue

A French bistro called Cafe Rouge at The Adams House, 52 Lower Petergate, Low Petergate, York YO1 7HZ

Ambience

One of the reasons we choose this restaurant was because there were plenty of others eating there. We had walked past many restaurants that were large and almost empty. This was not the ambiance we were looking for to enjoy a romantic meal. Cafe Rouge was welcoming and warm, which was just what we needed on a cold January night. There was a mix of couples and families ranging in age, so we felt this would be a comfortable place to eat.

Starters

I opted for the breaded camembert which was served with a cranberry and redcurrant sauce. The melted cheese was delicious and my only complaint was that there wasn’t enough of the tangy sauce. My partner opted for an unusual starter which is something he had never tried before. Eggs meurette is a poached egg served with a red wine, bacon, and mushroom sauce and accompanied by chargrilled sourdough bread. He said it made a nice change from the usual starters he orders.

Main Courses

Rather unpredictably, we both ordered the 8oz sirloin steak, his cooked rare and mine cooked medium. These were served with frites and we paid extra for a peppercorn sauce each and a house salad. The steaks were cooked to perfection and were exceptionally tender. The sauce, although not much of it, had just the right amount of kick and was not too creamy as is the case with many peppercorn sauces. My one very minor complaint was that the house salad we ordered as a side dish to share was tiny and basically consisted of a quartered tomato with a few green leaves drizzled with sauce. 

Desserts

I didn’t really have room for a dessert but as this was a special treat, I decided to have one. We had looked at the set menu when we had arrived and the desserts looked delicious. However, we had decided to order off the main menu. When we asked for a dessert menu, it consisted of completely different desserts from the set menu. My partner called the waiter and asked if we could choose a dessert from the set menu and he reassured us that this was fine. We both opted for the chocolate torte served with a vanilla creme fraiche. It was absolutely divine! 

Service

Our waiter was called Raffa (apologies if the spelling of his name is incorrect!) and he was welcoming and courteous as soon as we arrived. He even put two tables together as we had ordered side dishes so we would have more room for our food. He was attentive when needed but disappeared when we were enjoying our meals and conversation. He was especially accommodating with regards to our request about the dessert menu. At the end of the meal, we were asking him about the area and for recommendations of places to enjoy a drink where there was a good atmosphere. He was very chatty and helpful. 

Cost

The prices at Cafe Rouge were a little more than I am usually willing to pay, but this was a special treat. If you look at the online menu there are no prices on it and there is a reason for this, I suspect. The cost of a very average bottle of cabernet sauvignon was £22 before we even started on the food. However, looking at other venues in York, it is quite a pricey place to eat out no matter which venue you choose. The total cost of the meal came to just short of £92 for the two of use. Was it worth the cost? Just about!

Overall Rating

four stars

Overall, I would give Cafe Rouge in York a four out of five-star rating. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and there was a great atmosphere. There were just a few minor points that let it down, such as the cost, the tiny side salad and the lack of sauce. Other than that, I would highly recommend this restaurant.