Virginia, Let’s Eat

The menu from a very, very large meal with the Campbells.

The Camp­bells were food­ies long before the term was ever coined. We have Vir­gini­a’s own hand-writ­ten cook­book, gourmet-gro­cery store receipts, records of liquor and wine pur­chas­es,  let­ters from guests who wrote about the deca­dent meals served in our din­ing room, and not to men­tion loads of kitchen equip­ment the cook would have used in our kitchen.

What have we learned from all of this stuff the Camp­bells left behind? They real­ly, real­ly liked their food. Sure, they could drop the cash to have fresh oys­ters shipped on ice from New Orleans, but they also liked sim­ple sta­ples, like mac­a­roni and cheese and pot roast.

In the spir­it of tomor­row’s culi­nary bac­cha­na­lia, here’s an exam­ple of how the Camp­bells threw down (or their ser­vants, any­way) in the kitchen for a big fete. The image on this page is a menu for a going-away shindig for Robert before he left for an extend­ed trip to Europe with the fam­i­ly. The par­ty was host­ed at the South­ern Hotel (the super-swank hotel he owned, natch), and though the soiree was­n’t in the Camp­bells’ house, this menu is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a big deca­dent meal the Camp­bells would have had at home on spe­cial occasions.

Here’s a tran­scrip­tion of the menu with ital­i­cized notes to explain some of the foods that aren’t in reg­u­lar cir­cu­la­tion anymore:


Sad­dle Rock Oys­ters, pickled
Large oys­ters from the East Riv­er and Long Island Sound.

Wine: Chateau d’Yquem
A Sauternes, an amber-col­ored wine with caramel, hon­ey­suck­le, peach and apri­cot. This wine is (still) super-expen­sive, and Found­ing Father Thomas Jef­fer­son even bought a case of it on a trip to France in 1784.



Veg­etable soup made with car­rots, string beans, turnips, peas and lima beans.

Wine: Madeira Cama de Lobas
A for­ti­fied Por­tuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands which lie in the Atlantic, south­west of Portugal.


Filets of Lake Trout, a la Joinville
Fish coat­ed with meal, baked and served with a velouté sauce.

Ten­der­loin of Beef, with Truffles

Wine: Hock­heimer (A Ger­man dry white wine) and Amon­ti­la­do (Sher­ry)


Pat­tees of Grouse, a la Parisienne
Grouse is a bird sim­i­lar to a chick­en, and it was served flattened.

Spring Chick­ens, a l’Astrajon
Chick­en pre­pared with white wine, tar­ragon and crème fraiche.

Sweet­bread, a la Regeance
Culi­nary term for calf thy­mus gland and/or pan­creas. It tastes much bet­ter than it sounds. (Real­ly.)

Lam­b­chops, a la Vefour
Vefour is the name for the first great restau­rant in Paris, which opened in 1784.

Cham­pagne Frappe
Frozen cham­pagne.

Roederus Dry Sillery
A type of cham­pagne from Sillery, an area in north­east­ern France famous for its cham­pagne-pro­duc­ing vineyards.



Green Peas


Punch: A la Romaine, glacee
Roman Punch was used as a palate cleanser between cours­es, and it was made of cham­pagne, white wine, white rum and lemon juice.


Squab Pigeons, larded

Wood­cock, on toast
A type of wood­land bird.


Cab­i­net Pud­ding, Maraschi­no sauce
Sponge cake with dried fruit and sweet sauce.

Assort­ed cake

Bas­kets of Maringues [sic], a la Creme

Cham­pagne Jelly

Blanc Mange, a la Reine
Sweet dessert with cream, sug­ar, gela­tine, corn­starch and almonds.






Fil­berts (Hazel­nuts)




Chartrusse [sic] (French liqueur made of 130 herbs.)


Vanil­la Ice Cream

Thurs­day, June 6th, 1867.


Some menu, eh? We hope that gives you a lit­tle culi­nary food for thought tomor­row while you feast on turkey with your loved ones. From the Camp­bell Fam­i­ly to yours, have a hap­py (and deli­cious) Thanksgiving.