The term "Albany beef" was seldom used after 1900 and is of historical interest today.
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
Albany beef n. [From the former abundance of sturgeon near Albany, NY] NY joc.; now hist. Cf Cape Cod turkey
1791 (1971) Long Indian interpreter 118, THis fish [=sturgeon] is very common in Albany, and is sold at 1d. per lb. York currency. The flesh is called Albany beef.
1848 Bartlett Americanisms. Albany Beef. Sturgeon; a fish which abounds in the Hudson river; so called by the people in the State of New York.
(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
Albany beef n. [Albany,, N.Y. =beef] Naut. sturgeon met. Joc.
1779 in Whiting Early Amer. Prov. 6: This fish is a favorite with the Dutch, at Albany, and is on that account by some called Albany beef.
Geschichte der Reisen, die seit Cook an der Nordwest- und Nordost von Amerika
By Georg Forster
Man nennt ihn Albany Beef, oder Rindfleisch von Albany.
A Military Journal During the American Revolutionary War:
From 1775 to 1783
By James Thacher
Boston, MA: Published by Cottons & Barnard
June 21st (1779 -- ed.).-The officers of our regiment invited a select number of officers of the Pennsylvania line to dine on sturgeon, a large fish which Major Meriweather caught in the North river. This fish is a favorite with the Dutch, at Albany, and is on that account by some called Albany beef; but in my view it is worse than horse beef, and it was merely an auxiliary to our table.
19 August 1881, New York (NY) Times, pg. 3, col. 6:
THE SUPPLY OF "ALBANY BEEF."
From the Hudson Register, Aug. 17.
The smoked flesh of the sturgeon is a favorite article of food in the towns along the Hudson RIver, and when it is well prepared and has not become stale it is a very nutritious and palatable edible. In former years the catch of sturgeon in the Hudson River was amply sufficient to supply all demands for the beef at low prices. Within the past few years, however, the fish have become scarce and shy, and have to be brought to Albany, where the principal smoking establishments are, from the Kennebec River, in Maine, from the St. John's in FLorida, and from the great lakes,
New York (NY) Times
Sturgeon on Hudson
By ANDREW C. REVKIN JUNE 2, 2008 2:52 PM
It’s the remains of an Atlantic sturgeon, a fish that was so abundant in the Hudson in the 19th century that it was called “Albany beef.” (A story on Albany beef from The Times of 1881 is here; may require free registration). Sturgeon worldwide are not finding it easy to cohabitate with 6.7 billion people. Stocks of the great beluga sturgeon of the Caspian Sea, where black markets in caviar have blossomed since the fall of the Soviet Union, are in collapse.
The Old Foodie
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Humans have a long tradition of substituting an inferior ingredient for an unaffordable, unavailable, or forbidden one – and then naming it in a quite misleading way. Welsh Rabbit is the best known example, but there are many others.
It seems unbelievable today that sturgeon would be the inferior substitute for beef, but that was indeed the situation in the Hudson River Valley in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The town of Albany was once known as ‘Sturgeontown’ on account of the large amounts of ‘Albany Beef’ caught in the Hudson river.
The Atlantic sturgeon is an impressive fish, that is for sure. It is capable of living up to the age of 50 years, and growing up to 14 feet in length.
Nicknames of Other Places • New York State • Sunday, April 17, 2005 • Permalink