Fried jumbo frog legs, deviled pork chops and Lady Shrewsbury Drop Cake are three dishes from Columbia’s past.
The Richland Library recently launched an online collection which allows people to browse decades-old cookbooks and menus created by Columbia restaurants and organizations such as the Woman’s Club of Columbia.
Put out in 1947, “Favorite Recipes of The Woman’s Club of Columbia, South Carolina,” is one of the oldest cookbooks in the collection and features the deviled pork chops, a dish that features cuts of pork baked atop a layer of potatoes and onions and covered with a made from scratch barbeque sauce.
You can also see the recipes from members of Trinity Episcopal Church in their 1952 cookbook. It features 120 “favorite recipes,” such as Lady Shrewsbury Drop Cakes, a type of rose and almond flavored cookie.
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The oldest cookbook is from 1926 and was made by Waverly Methodist Church. The list of recipes features a section for people on the “typhoid diet,” which would have been for people dealing with typhoid fever, a disease brought on by unsanitary conditions.
The majority of the online collection is menus from Columbia’s long-gone restaurants such as Basil Pot, one of Columbia first dedicated vegetarian restaurants, and Metropolitan Restaurant which was opened from 1890 with the owners working in the eatery until around 1950, as the collection describes.
Another menu is from Ship Ahoy, the third in a Southern franchise opened on Main Street in 1941, according to the library’s description. The restaurant was designed like a ship “featuring upper and lower decks along with private cabins,” the description says. It was one of the first, if not the first, to serve Chinese food in Columbia along a selection of seafood and traditional American dishes. On the menu it says “Remember Pearl Harbor,” and “Buy U.S. Defense Bonds and Stamps.” At Ship Ahoy, you could get “Cold Smoked Ox Tongue of Beef with Swiss Cheese” for 60 cents.
Not to be outdone in 1940s cuisine, Lanier’s Cafe on the next street over offered its “Calf Liver, Broiled or Fried,” also for 60 cents. The “Fried Jumbo Frog Legs with French Fried Potatoes and Tartar Sauce” would cost you 90 cents.