If there’s one thing that motivates me, it’s food. Needless to say, when we were invited to set up a booth at the Maker’s Market during Everett’s Food Truck Festival, we were pumped. Not only is this a great opportunity to reach out to people, but we get to be around food for hours this weekend. HOURS.
You might be wondering what a museum could possibly do at a food truck festival. It’s a legitimate question. We wondered the same thing and took to the archives looking for inspiration. It didn’t take long before a glorious piece of Everett’s past presented itself.
A menu! Everett has food! And throughout its history, Everett has been home to hundreds of restaurants, cafes, bakeries, pubs, saloons, and diners! Inspired by the low menu prices and the clever items on the menu, we dug into the archives looking for more of Everett’s delicious past.
After pulling the rest of our artifacts and photographs for the exhibit, we decided to look into the Gaffney’s Cafe menu a little more to get a picture of the restaurant business in early Everett. Gaffney’s Cafe was owned by James C. Gaffney and was located at 1507 Hewitt Ave, where the Everpark Garage sits today. James Gaffney first appears in the Polk directories in 1911 as a cook. He continues in this line of work for the next 8 years or so, working at Weiser’s Cafe for part of that time. Around 1919, James becomes the owner and manager of Union Cafe, located at 1507 Hewitt Ave. Union Cafe eventually becomes Gaffney’s Cafe and runs until about 1932 when it disappears from the directory.
Now, of course I couldn’t just stop there. What would be the fun of learning about the restaurant business without getting a little taste of it ourselves? And what better way to do that then to try it at home! I turn my attention to the breakfast menu to see if there’s anything I have a chance of recreating.
Bingo. Poached eggs.
I have only made poached eggs before in one of those microwave things. You know what I’m talking about, right? Break the eggs into each little cup, close the lid, microwave until it starts to explode and hope for the best? I’m assuming this is not how James Gaffney made poached eggs and since I’ve never made them the traditional way, naturally I’ll be trying it for the first time in front of an audience. Perfect.
I needed some sides to go with my eggs so I decided to recreate the homemade sausage and sliced peaches on the menu. I also noticed an ad in the back of the menu that tells us that Gaffney’s only served Bargreen’s Coffee. This could not be any more perfect; we’re only a few blocks from Bargreen’s!
My next step was to find recipes for our menu items because I’m not a good cook. Luckily, we have many cookbooks in the archives that are full of recipes with vague directions and weird ingredients. This is the fun part.
Carefully looking through dozens of cookbooks is no easy feat, especially when many of them lack reference pages and none of them are digitized. Eventually I found poached eggs in The Home Queen Cook Book. This copy of the cookbook was published in 1901 and is a glorious treasure trove of recipes. There must be over a thousand recipes in this thing.
I found a recipe for sausage cakes in The Household Searchlight Recipe Book published in 1935.
The vague “any other desired seasonings” part of the instructions could have been disastrous here, but I did some searching online to find a nice spice combo and added the ingredients to my list.
Now that I had all my ingredients listed, it was time to shop. I dropped by Bargreen’s Coffee Co. for a pound of golden drip. Bargreen’s is an Everett institution. Established in 1898 by Sam Bargreen, this local coffee haven is still family owned and operated, and their service is as good as their coffee.
I walked into Bargreen’s seeking something that would complement our breakfast and asked the helpful barista for a pound of whole beans that was closest to the “golden drip” advertised in our menu. She disappeared behind a curtain and reappeared with this gloriousness:
The polka dots, the font, gah! Inside this rad vintage bag was a fresh pound of Good Morning Blend which smelled as good as it sounds. Heck yes. Bargreen’s truly went above and beyond to make this breakfast special.
I continued on to Sno-Isle Food Co-op where I picked up fresh peaches, a pound of locally made ground pork, and some spices from the bulk section. All in a day’s work.
I woke up Saturday morning knowing it was coffee and breakfast time. Naturally my first concern was the coffee.
I ground the beans to a good drip size and started the pot. Next I mixed the spices with the ground pork from Jack Mountain Meats to get our sausage going.
I created eight small sausage cakes as the recipe suggested and heated the pan.
I filled a second pan with water and a small bowl to start the poached eggs. At this point, I was thinking my eggs were going to stick to the tiny bowl, but the recipe doesn’t say to grease it, so I just had to hope it wouldn’t.
With the sausages simmering in the skillet, I monitored the water, waiting for it to be hot but not boiling. Do they mean simmering? Is it supposed to just be steaming? I had no idea, so I decided to wait for it to start steaming and dropped the egg into the saucer as soon as I started to see bubbles. I had no idea if this was right but I was already committed. I dropped an egg in the tiny bowl, expecting it to turn white right away like a normal fried egg. Nope.
I panicked a little, thinking I definitely put the egg in too early and this is going to be a disaster. I watched while the jiggly raw egg in a bowl rattled around in the pan, slowly turning white and eventually cooking all the way through.
While the egg was making its painfully slow transition from raw to cooked, I washed and sliced the peaches.
This was by far the easiest part of the process and Sno-Isle Food Co-op has the best produce. I approached peach slicing much like avocado slicing. I made a single slice through the vertical midline, rotated the knife around the pit, twisted the two peach halves apart, and removed the pit. Easy peasy.
With the sausages nearly finished, I prepped our plate, poured the coffee (DELICIOUS) and toasted some bread. I’d originally planned to serve two poached eggs over easy, but poaching the egg in the water was torturous and I didn’t want to cook a second one. Also, it totally stuck to the bowl. I called it.
Order up! Overall, not a bad try! My family enjoyed their 1920s cafe breakfast and we hope James Gaffney would be proud.
Now that breakfast is over, it’s time to pay up. Our bill total would have been $0.80 when Gaffney’s was up and running, though I’d probably have to offer a discount for refusing to cook a second egg.
If you’d like to see the Gaffney’s menu in all its glory, visit us on Saturday, August 24th in the Maker’s Market section of the Everett Food Truck Festival! We’ll be there from 12-6pm showing artifacts and photographs of Everett’s delicious food history.
And as always, tag Everett Museum of History on Facebook and @everettmuseum on Instagram and Twitter if you recreate this spread because we really want to see it. Seriously. And don’t forget to share this gem with your friends so more people can watch us embarrass ourselves for the sake of history.