Table d’hôte

21 - American Hotel Richmond 1864.jpg


American Hotel


Table d’hôte


Richmond, Virginia


March 13, 1864


This menu reflects the food shortages that arose in the Confederacy. The bill of fare does not offer tea or coffee, which were no longer easily obtainable, nor are there any pastries. Sugar had become particularly scarce by this point in the war. The lack of shipments from outside the region also caused the cuisine to be markedly local in character. The ham-and-greens dish was made with poke sallet weed, a poisonous wild plant popular in Appalachia and the South. The leaves must be boiled in water three times to make them safe to eat, even in the early spring when its toxins are at the lowest levels. The vegetable called “cornfield peas” refers to the agricultural practice of planting peas between rows of corn to enrich the soil. They could have been any one of the numerous varieties then grown in Virginia, such as the Clay pea, Shinney pea, Tory pea, and Three Crop pea. The American Hotel was destroyed by fire on April 3, 1865, during the fall of Richmond.