From my vantage point I can tell you that at any time of day or night hundreds of thousands of souls are searching for recipes from their favorite restaurants of old. Perhaps they are hoping to relive their pasts or to recall happy moments spent with departed loved ones. Or maybe they simply remember THAT Steak Diane or Chicken Salad as being the most delicious they ever tasted. And who can say it wasn’t?
Among the searchers, the most dedicated may well be those pining for dishes from long-gone department stores. For them, I have a fix, a new book by Angela Webster McRae called Dainty Dining: Vintage Recipes, Memories and Memorabilia from America’s Department Store Tea Rooms. In it are recipes, tested personally by Angela, from 20 of the country’s historic department stores, all gone except for two, Macy’s and Younkers (although the Des Moines flagship closed in 2005). Among others, readers will find favorites such as Cream of Cauliflower and Cheese Soup from Lazarus (Columbus OH), “Mr. Bingles” desserts from Maison Blanche (New Orleans), Mrs. Herring’s Chicken Pot Pie from Marshall Field in Chicago, and Rich’s Magnolia Room Frozen Fruit Salad (Atlanta).
In addition to providing brief histories and vintage images of each department store, Angela has photographed her culinary productions quite attractively. Dainty Dining is not yet available on Amazon but it can be purchased from Scott’s Bookstore in Newnan, Georgia (770-253-2960) or via Angela’s blog Tea with Friends.