Cover image for The invention of the restaurant : Paris and modern gastronomic culture
The invention of the restaurant : Paris and modern gastronomic culture
Spang, Rebecca L., 1961-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
vii, 325 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX910.F8 S667 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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 18th 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 pre-Revolutionary 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.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Public 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. Mary Carroll

Table of Contents

Introduction: To Make a Restaurant
1 The Friend of All the World
2 The Nouvelle Cuisine of 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