Restaurant menus provide a glimpse at the kinds of foods served in another time and place. They are a condensed view of what’s available to eat and how it’s popularly served and eaten. The prices charged for meals are also fascinating. Have you collected or saved old menus?
The Vancouver Museum currently has an exhibit titled All Together Now in which they profile collections of private collectors. One collector who is profiled is Dr. Imogene Lim, a professor of Anthropology and Global Studies at Vancouver Island University with an extensive collection of restaurant menus from the 1920s. She has a particular interest in tracing how food is represented, paying close attention to images and language used in the menus she collects. She likes to address the question of “authentic” Chinese cuisine.The menu collection of more than 150 menus from across North America can only be viewed on line at: https://viuspace.viu.ca/handle/10613/2695
If the idea of “authentic” cuisine intrigues you, here is a blog with fascinating information about a country you would probably not suspect had so much food tradition. Okay, it’s only marginally related to Dr. Lim’s project, but imagine how grateful you might be if you went to that country and knew how to decipher the menu ahead of time. http://diplomatonline.com/mag/2016/10/icelandic-foods-a-challenging-history/