Inventing the Restaurant: From Bone Broth to Michelin (podcast)

There always have been taverns, inns, takeout places. If you have an urban society, you need to have places where people who, say, are from the countryside and going to a market can have a meal. But it wasn’t just travelers who needed a place to eat. In medieval European cities, a lot of people didn’t have kitchens. And these city dwellers might have gone to food stalls to pick up a snack or a loaf of bread.

But none of these food stalls or inns are really the same thing as a restaurant. What’s different from those kinds of age-old establishments is that a restaurant offers a wider choice. First, a choice of what you want to eat. It has a menu—you don’t just settle for whatever they’re cooking. Second, there’s choice of times. It’s not a set meal served at a particular time. And third, you have a choice of who you eat with. The tradition at inns is that you eat at a common table or maybe you eat in your room. But the idea of separate tables for parties of three, four, two, whatever, is typical of a restaurant.

See the podcast and transcript of “Inventing the Restaurant: From Bone Broth to Michelin” on the Gastropod website (2017)