The Invention of the Restaurant : Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture

invention restaurantPublic eateries are so ubiquitous it may not occur to most of us that the restaurant has a unique history, intimately tied to debates about aristocracy and democracy, public affairs, and private life in the era surrounding the French Revolution.

Spang, a lecturer in modern European history at University College – London, traces this history and challenges the traditional gastronomic narrative of dining out in the French capital.

Before the Revolution, a « restaurant » was a restorative bouillon; those who went to « restaurateurs’ rooms » were flaunting their delicacy. During the Revolution, fraternal banquets that ignored social distinctions were an ideal, which the hospitality of restaurateurs sometimes seemed to approximate. By Napoleon’s rise to power, « the regime separated pleasure from policing, fashion from ideology, and individual taste from communitarian truth. » In this era, gastronomy ruled; restaurants remained public places but were no longer political arenas. Spang’s work should appeal to readers seriously interested in the social and intellectual history of dining out.

Contents

introduction : to make a restaurant

  1. The friend of all the world
  2. The Nouvelle Cuisine and the Rousseauian sensibility
  3. Private appetites in a public space
  4. Morality, Equality, Hospitality !
  5. Fixed prices : gluttony and the French revolution
  6. From gastromania to gastronomy
  7. Putting Paris on the Menu
  8. Hiding in Restaurants

epilogue : restaurants and reverie

Mots clé : restaurant, france, gastronomie, paris, histoire, Nouvelle Cuisine

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