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The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and…
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The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture… (edition 2001)

by Rebecca L. Spang

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982206,341 (3.44)None
Why are there restaurants? Why would anybody consider eating to be an enjoyable leisure activity or even a serious pastime? To find the answer to these questions, we must accompany Rebecca Spang back to France in the eighteenth century, when a restaurant was not a place to eat but a thing to eat: a quasi-medicinal bouillon that formed an essential element of prerevolutionary France's nouvelle cuisine. This is a book about the French Revolution in taste and of the table--a book about how Parisians invented the modern culture of food, thereby changing their own social life and that of the world. During the 1760s and 1770s, those who were sensitive and supposedly suffering made public show of their delicacy by going to the new establishments known as "restaurateurs' rooms" and there sipping their bouillons. By the 1790s, though, the table was variously seen as a place of decadent corruption or democratic solidarity. The Revolution's tables were sites for extending frugal, politically correct hospitality, and a delicate appetite was a sign of counter-revolutionary tendencies. The restaurants that had begun as purveyors of health food became symbols of aristocratic greed. In the early nineteenth century, however, the new genre of gastronomic literature worked within the strictures of the Napoleonic police state to transform the notion of restaurants and to confer star status upon oysters and champagne. Thus, the stage was set for the arrival of British and American tourists keen on discovering the mysteries of Frenchness in the capital's restaurants. From restoratives to Restoration, Spang establishes the restaurant at the very intersection of public and private in French culture--the first public place where people went to be private.… (more)
Member:pastryelf
Title:The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture (Harvard Historical Studies)
Authors:Rebecca L. Spang
Info:Harvard University Press (2001), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library (inactive)
Rating:
Tags:history, france, editorial

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The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture by Rebecca L. Spang

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i really didn't enjoy this. it might have have made a good magazine article but i found it way too long. i compulsively feel i must finish what i start. ( )
  mahallett | Oct 27, 2016 |
Contradicts the myth that the restaurant is a product of the French Revolution and analyzes the political rhetoric surrounding the restaurant (and its roles in the development of nouvelle cuisine and gourmandism) from the opening of the first salon de restaurateur in the 1760s through the mid-1800s. Interesting story with plenty of food for thought on the social aspects of food. A bit repetitive at the line level, which is not a big problem in the early part of the book, when the author is delivering her main argument. It becomes an issue toward the end, once the restaurant is firmly established as an institution and the author seems to have little left to say about it, but can't figure out how to conclude. ( )
  EstherCervantes | Apr 4, 2009 |
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Why are there restaurants? Why would anybody consider eating to be an enjoyable leisure activity or even a serious pastime? To find the answer to these questions, we must accompany Rebecca Spang back to France in the eighteenth century, when a restaurant was not a place to eat but a thing to eat: a quasi-medicinal bouillon that formed an essential element of prerevolutionary France's nouvelle cuisine. This is a book about the French Revolution in taste and of the table--a book about how Parisians invented the modern culture of food, thereby changing their own social life and that of the world. During the 1760s and 1770s, those who were sensitive and supposedly suffering made public show of their delicacy by going to the new establishments known as "restaurateurs' rooms" and there sipping their bouillons. By the 1790s, though, the table was variously seen as a place of decadent corruption or democratic solidarity. The Revolution's tables were sites for extending frugal, politically correct hospitality, and a delicate appetite was a sign of counter-revolutionary tendencies. The restaurants that had begun as purveyors of health food became symbols of aristocratic greed. In the early nineteenth century, however, the new genre of gastronomic literature worked within the strictures of the Napoleonic police state to transform the notion of restaurants and to confer star status upon oysters and champagne. Thus, the stage was set for the arrival of British and American tourists keen on discovering the mysteries of Frenchness in the capital's restaurants. From restoratives to Restoration, Spang establishes the restaurant at the very intersection of public and private in French culture--the first public place where people went to be private.

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