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Have a taste of In the Restaurant…

Posted 28th Sep 2017

In the Restaurant publishes today, and we can’t wait to share this extraordinary book with you.

From 18th-century Parisian establishments, to today’s new Nordic cuisine, via grand Viennese cafés and humble fast food joints, In the Restaurant shows that when we look through the windows of a restaurant, we can glimpse the world…

Experience a morsel of In the Restaurant below…

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What counts as a restaurant in the first decades of the twen- tieth century? The elitist, aristocratic establishments soon move aside, and the middle classes begin to take over. In Berlin, Aschinger’s Bierquellen are multiplying: dozens of fast-food restaurants distributed across the entire city. They offer beer sausages and potato salad. Fresh rolls are complimentary. The company’s central base produces the dishes on an industrial level: 2 million pairs of beer sausages in the year 1904 alone. The Aschingers invent a device which can cook 942 eggs simultaneously. The spice mortar has an electric mechanism. Colour enhancers like ‘spinach green’, ‘sauce brown’ and ‘crab red’ lend a hand with the visuals. But this mass production and culinary uniformity doesn’t necessarily guarantee automated behaviour from the clientele: in 1907, the writer Robert Walser observes that even in the standing-only Aschinger fast-food places, people seem to ‘let time drift away’ in a ‘downright facetious’ manner. He smears brown mustard across his sandwich, drinks a Helles beer, then another, and concludes: ‘We’re all human, after all.’

In New York, where the restaurant was a bastion of all things French and aristocratic, haute cuisine becomes just one option amongst many. In 1918, an expert counts fifty different types of establishments in which New Yorkers can fill their bellies. These include the automat, a German invention. As early as the 1870s, a new, cost-efficient delicacy emerges in America: it is not as tough as some steaks and consists of meat which has been shredded then put back together again. Its name, initially at least, is Steak Hamburg.

Before this, everything was straightforward. The best food was to be found in luxury hotels. Now, in the early twentieth century, the situation has become confusing. There are restaurants everywhere. As to how good they are, there’s no way of knowing. Written accounts become even more important than before. You read up and inform yourself first, then go out. Marcel Rouff and Maurice-Edmond Sailland travel all across France in their quest to produce the twenty-eight-volume culinary guide La France Gastronomique. The success of their work can be attributed to the country’s automobilization. And they also collaborate with the SNCF, the French railway company. Sailland, known by the pseudonym ‘Curnonsky’, speaks of the ‘holy alliance of tourism and gastronomy’. He creates an index of categories for the establishments he reviews. They range from the ‘high-end’ via the ‘bourgeois’ to the ‘regional’, right down to the ‘country kitchen’. It is from this index that the Michelin star system is developed.

Supposedly sophisticated onlookers don’t think much of these gastronomic guides. In 1921, one Charles J. Rosebault laments that true gourmets have become a ‘lost tribe’. In the New York Times he remarks on the presence of ‘barbarians’ in restaurants. He even encounters people who want ‘jazz with dinners’. And he claims that culinary masterpieces are disappearing: down ‘indifferent gullets’

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