Old Recipe Books and Lost Restaurants

I have a thing for buying old recipe books and reading through them. I love reading the recipes and wondering why on earth some of them were created. One of the recipe books that I have is called Luchöw’s which is based off the now gone restaurant. That restaurant was famous in New York City for many years. According to the book by Jan Mitchell who once ran the restaurant at one time, a variety of famous people would frequent the restaurant. The array of famous figures included O. Henry, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Strauss, and Enrico Caruso. This place was often visited and supported by members of the Steinway family. Again this info is according to my recipe book, nothing beyond that. This restaurant according to Wikipedia, no longer exists and hasn’t since 1983. The picture that accompanies the article represents a restaurant that I think that I would have loved to have gone to in its heyday.

Old restaurants like this interest me. The idea that you could be dining in an elegant atmosphere, in a landmark of a city, and possibly bump into such towering figures of history. The idea of serendipitous meetings in a classy, elegant atmosphere is often a backdrop for many a good fantasy story. The food alone is often something to write about. After all, there is such a thing as a restaurant critic. Their jobs have changed quite a bit since the beginning of the critic. Regardless, there is a reason that places such as the Algonquin Hotel and its restaurant have had a place in culinary and comedic history. Restaurants, especially historic ones, can produce an atmosphere ripe for intellectual or artistic expression. Business can also be conducted in elegant atmospheres. Luchöw’s is just one of the lost restaurants that provided this fantastic atmosphere.

I am glad that I have the recipe book for this restaurant. It allows me a glimpse into a world that I would not be able to experience for myself. I could theoretically make a food that has been eaten by a president or famous singer such as Caruso. Now not allow of the recipes in the book are designed for the home cook. The very first recipe in the entire book is a great example of this. The first recipe is pickled beef head salad. I highly doubt that the home cook is likely to be able to get their hands on 10lbs of fresh boned beef heads. Yeah, you read that right. Luchöw’s was a German restaurant with a love of making food the way your great-great-grandmother would have recognized. Regardless, this recipe book allows a look into a restaurant from a lost past.

I think that such recipe books are fantastic. However, I hope that restaurants that have existed for many decades will last for many more. I know that our tastes may change but foods and restaurants that serve them are a part of history and tradition. They provide a bit of the backdrop to the events of our lives and history in general. I think that it is an awesome idea that you can eat at the same place as celebrities may have before they were famous or where famous songs, books, or other works were thought of or invented. Are you familiar with Luchöw’s? Would you like to hear more of the recipes from this book or my other old cookbooks? What restaurants do you think of as a classic or elegant place? What restaurants are a tradition for you? Please answer below with your comments and thanks for reading. I appreciate the comments.

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