From beef tongue to beef on weck, menus through the years trace our culinary history

Associated Press

Before beef on weck and chicken wings became staples of Buffalo's restaurants, there was beef tongue and woodcock.

An array of restaurant menus amassed by the Buffalo History Museum offers a taste of the city's culinary story. Museum library director Cynthia Van Ness so far has assembled about 5,000 Buffalo menus, some dating to the 19th century, and has put out a call for more.

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Rebecca Federman is a librarian at the New York City Public Library, which boasts a 45,000-menu collection.

She says it has a variety of readers, including foodies and chefs looking for historical inspiration and relatives of departed restaurateurs longing for a glimpse of family history. Wine historians have used the collection to trace the rise of certain wines in the United States