Sunday, January 6, 2019

Food & Drink in American Public Gardens - Turtle soup, warm milk, & smallpox

Most public pleasure gardens in the British American colonies and the new republic offered regular schedules of refreshments, meals, and entertainments, so customers could plan their visits accordingly.

In New York City in 1763, John Marshall advertised that his Spring Gardens were opening "for Breakfasting from 7 o'clock 'til 9. Tea in the Afternoon from 3 til 6." Patrons could order green tea, madeira, mead, cakes, and "hot French roles."

When it first opened in 1761, Corlear's Hook Tavern and Garden in New York perched on the promontory that projected into the East River at the spot called Corlears's Hook offered only breakfasts on a regular schedule. "Gentlemen and Ladies who chuse to take the Air in the Morning, will be genteely entertained with Tea, Coffee, or Chocolate for Breakfast, any Morning of the week."

A New System Of Domestic Cookery by Maria Rundell published in 1807, explained how to make hot chocolate.  "Cut a cake of chocolate in very small bits; put a pint of water into the pot, and, when it boils, put in the above; mill it off the fire until quite melted, then on a gentle fire till it boil; pour it into a basin, and it will keep in a cool place eight or ten days, or more. When wanted, put a spoonful or two into milk, boil it with sugar, and mill it well. This, if not made thick, is a very good breakfast or supper."

But after John Brandon took over the management of the New York City garden in 1772, the scope of the regular entertainment broadened considerably. "It is a pleasant Walk from Town...the best of Wines, Arrack, Rum, Taunton Ale, Porter, and other Liquors are provided, Dinners...for large or small companies...Relishes ...Mead, Cakes, Teas, Coffee, Syllabub...Morning or Afternoon."

When New Yorker John Jones opened Ranelagh Garden in the summer of 1765, he offered regular breakfasting from 6 to ten 10 the morning, and tea & coffee "served in the genteelest Manner" each afternoon. In the evenings the garden was "illuminated."

On Mondays and Thursdays, however, he added a concert of music from 6 in the evening until 9 followed by fireworks until ten. Guests danced in a "commodious Hall in the Gardens" or met more intimately in smaller "Drawing Rooms" to drink "the very best of Wine, and other Liquors, Meade, Sillabub" and eat "Gammons, Tongues, Alamode Beef, Tarts,... Cakes." With advance notice, guests could order complete dinners.

King's Arms Tavern and Garden opened in New York City before 1754. When Edward Bardin became the propriator, his daily schedule included breakfast from 7 until 10, tea from midday until six, and tarts from 7 until 9 in the evening. Musicians played in the garden three evenings each week. Bardin erected a "neat and commodious Room in the Garden, for the Retreat of the Company when the Weather is unfavorable."

Some gardens became famous for their house specials. When Edward Bardin opened The Kensington in New York City in 1775, he promised the garden would be illuminated every night and serve the house specialty, "chicken pie," as well as the customary cakes, wines, and liquors.

When John Hogg took over the operation of Joseph Tyler's greenhouse and garden restaurant in New York City in 1808, he advertised an "uncommon fine Green Turtle" soup as his specialty. The Lombardy Gardens, on the present site of the Broad Street Train Station in Philadelphia, also depended on its turtle soup to attract patrons to its concerts, illuminations, and fireworks. 

John Tyler (1790-1862)   

Turtle soup continued to be a favorite in 19C America, especially along the Atlantic coastline.  William Henry Harrison died only a month after his inauguration as President of the United States, & John Tyler, who succeeded him, held a Fourth of July dinner that year that included turtle soup. A giant 300 pound turtle from Key West had been given to the new president as a gift & ended up on the White House dinner table. After dinner, Tyler & his guests walked out onto Lafayette Square to enjoy a fireworks display.

In 1797, ice cream and pastry maker Peter Thorn opened Apollo's Garden in New York City. He sold his specialties at the garden along with "warm milk from the cow every morning."   Apparently, drinking warm milk directly from the cow was an acceptable practice in England's most genteel families.

Charles Philips (British artist,  1703–1747) Syllabub straight from the Cow The Russell and Revett Families in a Landscape

One of the perceived benefits from drinking milk in the 18C was its potential as a smallpox inhibitor. In 18C Europe, it was commonly believed that milk maids (women who milked cows & sold milk) seemed to be immune from the smallpox plagues, when they swept through Europe. 

New Cries of London Sold by Darton and Harvey 1803 Milk

In 1796, English physician Edward Jenner developed a vaccine for smallpox based upon this folk knowledge.  "Recognizing that dairymaids infected with cowpox were immune to small-pox, Jenner deliberately infected James Phipps, an eight year old boy, with cowpox in 1796. He then exposed Phipps to smallpox-which Phipps failed to contract. After repeating the experiment on other children, including his own son, Jenner concluded that vaccination provided immunity to smallpox…"

As late as 1899, using warm milk against smallpox was still being advocated.  In the medical journal Gaillard's Medical Journal, Volumes 70-71, of 1899, the doctor was instructed to "obtain the smallpox lymph in the vesicular stage only, and admix the same thoroughly with from three to six drops of fresh, warm cow's milk, and proceed to operate precisely as for vaccination. Modified inoculation, thuspractised, is not communicated by contact or contagion."