A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 04, 2013
Mulligan Stew

Entry in progress—B,P,
[This entry was prepared with research assistance of Sam Clements of the American Dialect Society listserv and the Early Sports and Pop Culture History Blog.]

Wikipedia: Mulligan stew (food)
Mulligan stew is a dish said to have been prepared by American hobos in camps in the early 1900s.
(...)
The earliest known attestation is in 1899.

“Mulligan” is a stand-in for any Irishman, and mulligan stew is simply an Irish stew that includes meat, potatoes, vegetables, and whatever else can be begged, scavenged, found or stolen. A local Appalachian variant is a burgoo, where the available ingredients might include squirrel or opossum. Only a pot and a fire are required. The hobo who put it together was known as the “mulligan mixer.”

(Oxford English Dictionary
mulligan, n.
N. Amer.
Also more fully mulligan stew. A stew made from odds and ends of food. Also fig.: a mixture, jumble, hotchpotch.
1898 Fresno (Calif.) Morning Republican 15 June 8/3 The tasty manner in which they get up a ‘mulligan’ stew would tickle the palate of the most critical epicure.
1899 Atlantic Monthly Nov. 673 Git the divvil out of there, lad, and here’s the price of a mulligan.
1914 Sat. Evening Post 4 Apr. 10/1 It was a mulligan. Everything was in that stew—meat, potatoes, onions, bread—an appetizing hodgepodge.

Chronicling America
12 April 1894, Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer, “Preparing for the Road,” pg. 5, col. 3:
Contributions of food came in liberally yesterday, the following being added to the regular givers: (...) The meat and potatoes were stewed together into what is called Mulligan stew, “because it goes further that way,” as Commissary Brown put it.

Chronicling America
24 April 1894, Anaconda (MT) Standard, “Under Arms,” pg. 4, col. 2:
Rations were served to each company and the men had what they called a “mulligan,” which consisted of a kind of Irish stew made of the scraps left over from the former meals.

17 May 1894, Evening Star (Washington, DC), pg. 3, col. 6:
During the afternoon Oakland bought his keg of beer, and on its arrival in camp it was voted unanimously to hold it until the next day and then to celebrate the day by cooking a “mulligan.” Now, mulligan is a stew of large proportions and many ingredients, and, as it would require considerable hustling to get together the stuff, we all started early.  To my share fell the tomatoes and potatoes.  Army was to get coffee, sugar, salt and pepper, and the rest were to provide meat, bread, and if possible, chickens.

23 July 1894, The Inter-Ocean (Chicago, IL):
Dinner was served today between the hours of 2 and 4 o’clock. (...) The bill of fare consisted of “mulligan,” which closely resembles an Irish stew, potatoes, and black coffee.  “Mulligan” was the favorite and the men passed up their tin cans for refilling “full many a time and oft.” Two or three men were having their hair cut while dispatching the delectable stew.  The floor is used for a table and the men eat with their fingers or improvised wooden spoons.  The cooking was done with oil stoves.  The stew was boiled in a battered old boiler and the coffee was prepared in an ex-water pail.

17 May 1898, Helena (MT) Independent, “At Camp Robert B. Smith,” pg. 2, col. 2:
Company H has a pet dog, by courtesy called a Scotch terrier. He resembles a tarantula and has the color of a Mulligan stew.

Google Books
Tales of the Ex-Tanks:
A Book of Hard-Luck Stories

By Clarence Louis Cullen
New York, NY: Grosset and Dunlap
1900
Pg. 369:
... I was down at the foot of Clay street (San Francisco—ed.) buying Mulligans—which consist of red peppers mixed with steamed beer—for a large and admiring bunch of ‘longshoremen. They took turns telling me the stories of their lives, and then I’d purchase more Mulligans for ‘em. They’d edge up and give me lung-to-lung talk about what a nice, chile con carne proposition I was whereupon I’d order additional beakers composed of red peppers and steamed beer for them, and the dripped green boys for myself.

21 January 1900, The Sunday Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Weary Willie on His Travels,”
Another traveler present described the operation of making a “mulligan.” Five or six hobos join in this. One builds a fire and rustles a can. Another has to procure meat; another potatoes; one fellow pledges himself to obtain bread, and still another has to furnish onions, salt and pepper. If a chicken can be stolen, so much the better. The whole outfit is placed in the can and boiled until it is done. If one of the men is successful in procuring “Java,” an oyster can is used for a coffee tank, and this is also put on the fire to boil. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that California hobos always put a “snipe” in their coffee, to give it that delicate amber color and to add to the aroma. “Snipe” is hobo for the butt end of a cigar that smokers throw down in the streets. All hobos have large quantities of snipes in their pockets, for both chewing and smoking purposes. A “beggar stew” is a “mulligan,” without any meat.

28 August 1903, Nevada State JournalL (Reno, NV), pg. 1, col. 5:
MULLIGAN STEW
A Bunch of Renoites Enjoy the Hos-
pitality of Lord Kelsey

Gentle and long suffering reader, have you ever partaken of a mulligan stew? If your answer is in the negative there is a positive assurance that you have never known true happiness.

Yesterday afternoon Bohemia, or something else, was turned loose and one of the pleasantest little times was had that ever happened.  It all occurred in Lord Kelsey’s mansion on the banks of the Truckee.  The mansion is restricted in size and the event took place beneath a spreading willow. The mulligan was simply immense. There were four gallons of it and every gill thereof was nectar fir for the gods. This was natural since it was concoted by H. H. Hopping.  Litchenberg was the assistant chef de cuisine and Bet Rogers officiated as bar maid.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, August 04, 2013 • Permalink