1852 in New York saw the start of the transformation of eating out in America! It was also the year Peter McGuire, the man who gave us the 8 hour working day, was born in to a poor Irish catholic family in NY.
What would McGuire have seen as he grew up in the 19th Century in NY?
Eating houses and taverns would have been normal in 19th century NY. Cafes were just starting to open, but fine dining was seen as un-American.
Ironically, politics and pretentions about food have always been part of American politics, even in McGuire's day! The rich guy always wants to be seen as a man of the people and derides his opponent as a snob, weaponizing hamburgers, pork rinds, or hard cider!
So far no politician has galvanized their base behind the oyster!
Oysters, like today, were normal for most NYers back in 1852. When fine dining began at Delmonico's, mirroring sophisticated dining in Paris and London, oysters still appeared on menus and were ordered as appetizers. Give me 6!
Today, after the rejuvenation of NY harbor you can eat NY oysters again. Head out to Governor's Island and sit at the oyster bar sipping Grey Goose fizzes and slurping oysters.
Labour Day Party Food: Oysters and Kirsch Cafe!
In honor of Peter and one of NY and America's most iconic restaurants, I suggest you serve oysters and kirsch cafes!
You can get your fishmonger to suck them so you don't have to. It's not penance after all!
If your grilling oysters then buy large ones so they don't shrivel up. I made that mistake when I made these Japanese style grilled oysters. The ponzu sauce is delicious.
If you don't have a fishmonger that can shuck oysters for you, then try buying a can of pre-shucked oysters and making oyster stew. We made this, really easy recipe with cream. It won't disappoint.
Kirsch may seem un-American, but it's a nod to the heritage of the Delmonico's brothers who came from Switzerland.
You could also try some delicious Domaine de Canton cocktail recipes. Cantons are like small states in Switzerland. The ginger liquor is delicious alone, and makes good cocktails!
Happy Labor Day.