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OP: Dinner in the Diner

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by Will C. Hollister

These days, American trains are used for little more than hauling bulky freight and disgruntled commuters. Gone are the lavish cars that carried presidents, tycoons, and stars of stage and screen from coast to coast. The well-served Pullman sleepers, and the luxurious excursions across the plains and the western mountains are no more. And, sad to say, there are only dim memories of the original succession of morning coffee, leisurely lunches, and lavish dinners in the dining car—served on fine china by white-jacketed attendants. 

The romance of the rails and the quality of the dining experience there created something of a cult around dining car culture. Even after the glory days were over, railroad buffs collected menus, participated in on-the-tracks culinary trips, and wrote books and articles rating the food and the service on the Santa Fe, the Baltimore & Ohio, and the Rock Island lines.

This attractive collection of route maps, photographs, historical essays, and, needless to say, many, many recipes, covers fourteen railroads still active as passenger carriers in the 1950s and ‘60s. From the“By 1872 the rail trek from New York to San Francisco—a seven day journey if one did not stop enroute—was becoming popular and the convenience of diners added to the attraction.” New York Central to the Canadian Pacific, from fresh shrimp gumbo to corn fritters to strawberry parfait pie, this is good, hearty food, made from scratch. Even if you’re not a cook, you’ll enjoy learning about the great tradition of meals on the move from the last days of the age of steam to the world of the great humming diesel engines and the sleek electric-powered streamliners.

Dinner in the Diner by the consummate railroad buff and cook Will Hollister was published by Trans-Anglo Books of Los Angeles in 1965. We offer here the 1988 eleventh printing, a testament to its lasting appeal. This edition was issued without a dust jacket in white paper over boards. Perhaps unsurprisingly for this design choice, the paper is prone to scuffing and discoloration. Ours is no exception and shows some bumping and scuffing around the edges and corners, as well. We would characterize the case as Very Good Minus. However, the interior is totally clean and Near Fine. Not a common book and great browsing.

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