Tuesday, August 2, 2016

History and the birth of the modern restaurant

Greece and Rome 

In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, thermopolia (singular thermopolium) were small restaurant-bars that offered food and drinks to customers. A typical thermopolium had little L-shaped counters in which large storage vessels were sunk, which would contain either hot or cold food. Their popularity was linked to the lack of kitchens in many dwellings and the ease with which people could purchase prepared foods. Furthermore, eating out was considered a very important aspect of socializing.

A Roman thermopolium in Pompeii

In Pompeii, 158 thermopolia with a service counter have been identified across the whole town area. They were concentrated along the main axis of the town and the public spaces where they were frequented by the locals.

The birth of the modern restaurant - Paris in the 18th century

The modern idea of a restaurant – as well as the term itself – appeared in Paris in the 18th century. For centuries Paris had taverns which served food at large common tables, but they were notoriously crowded, noisy, not very clean, and served food of dubious quality. In about 1765 a new kind of eating establishment, called a "Bouillon", was opened on rue des Poulies, near the Louvre, by a man named Boulanger. It had separate tables, a menu, and specialized in soups made with a base of meat and eggs, which were said to be restaurants or, in English "restoratives". Other similar bouillons soon opened around Paris. Thanks to Boulanger and his imitators, these soups moved from the category of remedy into the category of health food and ultimately into the category of ordinary food. Their existence was predicated on health, not gustatory, requirements.

The first luxury restaurant in Paris, called the Taverne Anglaise, was opened at the beginning of 1786, shortly before the French Revolution, by Antoine Beauvilliers, the former chef of the Count of Provence, at the Palais-Royal. It had mahogany tables, linen tablecloths, chandeliers, well-dressed and trained waiters, a long wine list and an extensive menu of elaborately prepared and presented dishes. In June 1786 the Provost of Paris issued a decree giving the new kind of eating establishment official status, authorizing restaurateurs to receive clients and to offer them meals until eleven in the evening in winter and midnight in summer. A rival restaurant was started in 1791 by Méot, the former chef of the Duke of Orleans, which offered a wine list with twenty-two choices of red wine and twenty-seven of white wine. By the end of the century there were other luxury restaurants at the Grand-Palais: Huré, the Couvert espagnol; Février; the Grotte flamande; Véry, Masse and the cafe des Chartres (still open, now the Grand Vefour).

Source: Wikipedia

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