If there’s one thing that being a food critic has taught me, it’s that restaurant food evolves. Trends happen. One minute, designer cupcakes are chic. The next, it’s all about rollup ice cream. As years pass, certain trends stop being interesting to diners and start being stigmatized.
Some foods that were once found on every restaurant plate now are fairly rare. Some are gone altogether. These foods, for example, are increasingly difficult to find when you’re going out to eat…
Veal Cordon Bleu
French cooking, in general, is starting to die out in the restaurant scene. This Swiss-French dish was one of the first to get the axe. Once a staple of fine dining, this ham-stuffed veal cutlet no longer sparks any interest on menus in America because it looks (and tastes) rather plain.
This dish was a staple on French restaurant menus from the 50s all the way up to the 90s. Don’t blame Millennials for killing this dish, though. It just wasn’t that impressive to people anymore.
Back in the 50s and 60s, people were far more amenable to organ meats than they are today. Restaurants loved serving this dish, because the meat was cheap, it was easy to make, and it tasted decent.
Unfortunately, our society started to get far pickier about what cuts of meat they’re served. Kidneys were one of the first items to hit the chopping block when it came time to call up the local butcher.
Snipe, Plover, Woodcock, and Pheasant
During the 19th century, being able to source fresh meat was a little bit easier. Buying meat from the butcher was pricey, and many restaurants preferred to just pay local hunters for whatever they caught that day. So, game was big in the restaurant scene
Hunting became rarer and rarer…and so did the small birds that restaurants demanded. As a result of overhunting and cultural shifts, most game birds stopped being featured on menus within the early part of last century.
Back in the 19th century, people loved to eat pigeons. They ate them because they were insanely common, easy to hunt, and low cost. They also probably ate them because they didn’t have much interest in food sanitation back in the day, either.
Today, most people call pigeons “flying rats” and see them as fairly unsanitary. This is a rightful viewpoint, too, since they tend to eat garbage that would make most of us extremely sick. Unsurprisingly, these birds don’t really show up on menus anywhere anymore.
Chicken A La King
Chicken a la King is a dish that still finds its way on dinner plates in homes throughouit the Midwest. It’s a dish that’s known for its creamy topping, ample use of peas and carrots, and a melty texture that is characteristic of comfort food.
Though it tastes great and is a quick meal to fix up, it just didn’t have the visual appeal that restaurants need these days. Between the plain ingredients and simple appearance, it just stopped being ordered through the years.
There was a time when gelatin was a base in almost every food and salad out there. Gelatin was the thing, even for a meal. Aspics were savory appetizers that were dropped in flavorless (or slightly spiced) gelatin.
The texture and appearance quickly wiped these off menus once gelatin stopped being popular. The restaurant industry let out a collective cheer.