H L Mencken on Baltimore cuisine in the 1880s

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How the stomachs of Baltimore survived at all in those days is a pathological mystery. The standard evening meal tended to be light but the other two were terrific. The repertoire for breakfast, beside all the known varieties of pancake and porridge, included such things as ham and eggs, broiled mackerel, fried smelts, beef hash, pork chops, country sausage and even – God help us all – what would now be called Welsh rabbit. My father usually came home for lunch, and on Saturdays, with no school, my brother Charlie and I sat in. Our favourite Winter lunch was typical of the time. Its main dishes were a huge platter of Norfolk spots or other pan-fish and a Himalaya of corn-cakes. Along with this combination went succotash, buttered beets, baked potatoes, string beans, and other such heart vegetables. When oranges and bananas were obtainable, they followed for dessert – sliced and with a heavy dressing of grated cocoanut. The calorie content of two or three helpings of such powerful aliments probably ran to 3,000. We’d all be somewhat subdued afterward, and my father always stretched out on the dining room lounge for a nap. In the evening he seldom had much appetite and would usually complain that cooking was fast going downhill in Baltimore, in accord with the general decay of human society.

From Happy Days (1940)