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What does eating out tell us about who we are? The restaurant is where we go to celebrate, to experience pleasure, to see and be seen - or, sometimes, just because we're hungry. But these temples of gastronomy hide countless stories.
As this dazzlingly entertaining, eye-opening book shows, the restaurant is where performance, fashion, commerce, ritual, class, work and desire all come together. Through its windows, we can glimpse the world.
This is the tale of the restaurant in all its guises, from the first formal establishments in eighteenth-century Paris serving 'restorative' bouillon, to today's new Nordic cuisine, via grand Viennese cafés and humble fast food joints. Here are tales of cooks who spend hours arranging rose petals for Michelin stars, of the university that teaches the consistency of the perfect shake, of the lunch counter that sparked a protest movement, of the writers - from Proust to George Orwell - who have been inspired or outraged by the restaurant's secrets.
'A playful story, most entertaining, and wonderfully documented.' - Ferran Adrià of El Bulli
'An entertaining smorgasbord of tasty stories that build into a deeper picture of the places where we eat, from fast food joints and cafés to the temples of gastronomy.' - Hattie Ellis
'Fascinating, multi-layered, audacious and unique . . . mixes fact and fancy so compellingly that I read it in a single sitting.' - Russell Norman, author of Polpo
"Glorious stuff along the way ... we are unquestionably gripped by the stories... Brilliant. Just bloody brilliant." -- Giles Coren, The Times
"Knowing and nourishing in equal measure, the short, sharp chapters arrive like delectable hors d'oeuvres." -- Monocle
"A brilliant, provocative, wonderful, satisfying book. A proper gallimaufry of anecdotes that has been a real pleasure to lose myself in." -- Desperate Reader (blog)