Another Wonderful Old Menu

January 16, 2016

The 1939 New York World’s Fair was like Bourdain’s food hall concept on speed- picture dozens of international food counters, each in a whimsical building more suited to the moon than an old ash dump in Queens. Here’s Poland’s:

polish pavilion 1939

And Italy’s:

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 7.29.08 PM

But I’m mainly here to show you this amazing menu from the Iraqi Pavillon’s “Garden of Eden Cafe,” which was part of the Hall of Nations. (Like yesterday’s Chinese menu, this is from the NYPL’s newly-digitized menu holdings.)

Every single dish here features dates, and almost every dish seems like something I’d like to eat. Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 6.43.39 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-15 at 6.43.47 PM

If you’re interested in further reading, Greg Morabito wrote this eye-opening piece about the food at the ’39 New York World’s Fair – and he includes a few more menus. For a surreal video, check out this archival footage of the grounds.



Categorised in:


  • Jeanie says:

    Very interesting. ” almost every dish seems like something I’d like to eat “. Suitable for your birthday dinner, maybe?
    Happy Birthday, Ruth!

  • Gary Gillman says:

    Excellent, excellent, excellent. I remember the food pavilions at Expo ’67 in Montreal and now see how the international cuisine at the New York World’s Fair was an inspiration.

    Clearly too the ’39 event helped form the food culture which flourished in NYC after 1945. It wasn’t alone but in retrospect was an important influence.

  • Momma J says:

    Love the prices!!

  • Joy Kramer says:

    I noticed the note at the bottom of the menu mentioning Iraqi dates, so that’s why everything had dates, that was their product. What a treat it would be to have been able to eat at all those places at the fair. I was at one of them in Canada, but so quickly as I only had one day. It would have been lovely to have the time to browse and the money to sample all the restaurants.