With contributions by Katharine Allen, Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey
Thanksgiving at the Parlor Restaurant
By Katharine Allen
On November 22, 1910, The State ran an advertisement touting the Thanksgiving menu offered by Ben David, the proprietor of the Parlor Restaurant. The food included American staples like crème of celery soup, “prime ribs of western beef,” “mashed and whole boiled potatoes,” and of course, turkey, albeit with “chesnut dressing.” By then, the Parlor Restaurant’s reputation for providing excellent food and service at reasonable prices had helped Columbia become “the square meal town.” For 18 years, David served legislators, businessmen, students, and tourists a plethora of foodstuffs – particularly oysters and wild game – that were likely at odds with the kosher upbringing of his parents, if not himself.
“The best caterer in town.”
Benjamin “Ben” David was born in Poland in 1853 and immigrated to the United States as a toddler with his parents and siblings. He spent the 1870s through 1890s operating liquor stores and saloons before opening the Parlor Restaurant in 1896. Initially located in the Kendall Building on Washington Street, the Parlor Restaurant raised its profile through print advertising and elaborate storefront displays
In 1900, David moved his restaurant to 1336 Main Street, where he remained open night and day for more than 10 years.
The planned construction of the Arcade Mall at 1332 Main Street forced the Parlor Restaurant to relocated across the street, where it remained until 1913. Upon his death in 1920, “Uncle Ben” was eulogized in The State. Edward N. Carpenter, a friend from his youth, summed up his life thusly: “one of the best men [I] had ever known. In charitable causes he was generous, too much so it is said. His life was one of usefulness.” David, along with his siblings, is buried at the Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery in Columbia.
Thanksgiving Memories: Cranberry Relish and Corn Pie
Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey
Like many Southern Jewish families, our families gathered together each year with extended family to enjoy both religious and secular holidays. Of course, the dinner table was the epicenter these happy celebrations. Menus were well-established with family-designated cooks knowing exactly what their contribution to the menu was for any given meal.
Thanksgiving was one of those celebrations. When our children were young, we would all gather—the Levinsons, Kligmans, and Dickmans—to enjoy the festivities. Selma and Max Dickman hosted for years, first at their home on Lake Murray and then when Max passed away, Selma would host Thanksgiving in her beautiful home in Spring Valley. There was an annual photo taken of the children – each year the photo added a couple of “newcomers” until we had a good 16 or so!
The Thanksgiving meal was a wonderful combination of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, combined with several Jewish contributions (the omnipresent kugel and brisket for instance!) Everyone was assigned a dish and over the years that became their traditional annual contribution for Thanksgiving.
By Lyssa Kligman Harvey
My contribution is a cranberry relish made from fresh cranberries and citrus fruit. It has graced the family Thanksgiving table over the last 20 years. The cranberry relish is not only good with turkey, but also on sandwiches and served with cheese platters. I make a big batch to give away for the holidays, wrap it jelly jars, and with friends and neighbors.
16-oz. bag of cranberries
2 medium-sized oranges
3 Granny Smith apples
1 jar of raspberry preserves
Rinse off cranberries and place in food processor with chopping blade. Chop cranberries into very small pieces and place in a large bowl. Quarter and seed oranges, lemons, and apples and place in food processor. Chop these fruits into very small pieces and add to the cranberries. Add the jar of raspberry preserves. Mix well. If the cranberry relish is a little too tangy add a little sugar to taste.
Serve in a bowl, or can be canned in jars. Relish must be refrigerated. It will last for about 6 months in a tightly sealed jar. Good with turkey, ham, on sandwiches, or on brie cheese or cream cheese.
By Rachel Gordin Barrett
My contribution is a recipe that I found in an old Southern Living cookbook that, with a few tweaks, is almost as good as the corn pie Ethel Glover used to make me when I was a child in Summerton, South Carolina. She has always been a cooking inspiration for me and many of my recipes today are from her kitchen.
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 ½ tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk (I use 2%)
3 cans cream style corn (17 oz.)
¾ teaspoon salt
Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour. Stir well to make a roux. Add sugar and salt. Stir constantly 1 minute until smooth. Slowly add milk, stirring until thick. Add corn to the mixture. Crack and beat eggs in a separate bowl. Slowly add eggs to corn mixture. Pour into a greased 9 x 12 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.