Dinner with Universalists

Few things annoy me more than the pseudo-truism that Universalists were the simple, earthy yokels while the Unitarians has cultivated such powers of the mind that they never touched the ground. (Much cheaper than buying boots, you know.) If I hear the terms “country mouse” and “Universalist” in the same sentence again, I shall surely scream.

As it happens, I have evidence of sophistication: the Universalist Clubs, information of which is fleeting. But obvious to say that don’t bear much in common with today’s UUMen.

The Universalist Clubs of New York and Rhode Island have dinner menus preserved in the New York Public Library Digital Gallery’s delightful Menu Collection.

I have enough grasp of culinary French and cognates to see the New Yorkers ate quite well — often at the “old Hotel St. Denis” on Broadway at 11th — and the English-menued Rhode Islanders ate above par. (And better than the Unitarians.)

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

2 thoughts on “Dinner with Universalists”

  1. Well, duh. Even the French rabble (“Let them eat cake!”) ate better than the flinty old Unitarians.

    Have you ever tried to eat a meal of boiled cod, baked beans and Indian pudding?

    Fortunately, these days we have Fenway Franks.

  2. A few minutes’ wbcrawling turned up this Unitarian lip-smacker, from Famous UU (okay, Famous Unitarian) Fannie Merritt Farmer’s 1918 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book:

    Corn Pudding

    2 cups popped corn, finely pounded
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    3 cups milk
    1 tablespoon butter
    3 eggs, slightly beaten
    3/4 teaspoon salt

    Scald milk, pour over corn, and let stand one hour. Add remaining ingredients, turn into a buttered dish, and bake in a slow oven until firm. Serve with cream, or maple syrup.

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