Dishing It Out: In Search of the Restaurant Experience

Overview


 
From the hamburger haven to the temple of gastronomy, the restaurant is a fixture of modern life. But why is that so? What needs has the restaurant come to satisfy, and what needs has it come to impose upon the experience of the modern world? In Dishing It Out, Robert Appelbaum travels around America and Europe and through the annals of literature and history to explore the social meaning of the restaurant—and to discover what we ought ...
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Dishing it Out

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Overview


 
From the hamburger haven to the temple of gastronomy, the restaurant is a fixture of modern life. But why is that so? What needs has the restaurant come to satisfy, and what needs has it come to impose upon the experience of the modern world? In Dishing It Out, Robert Appelbaum travels around America and Europe and through the annals of literature and history to explore the social meaning of the restaurant—and to discover what we ought to be asking of the restaurant experience today.
 
Since its founding in pre-Revolutionary France, the restaurant has always inspired contradictory feelings and served contradictory purposes. It has stood for a kind of liberation: the embrace of pleasure and sociability for their own sake. But it has also encouraged narcissistic consumerism at the cost of the exploitation of restaurant workers, and the self-deception of restaurant-goers. Drawing on the work of such writers as Grimod de la Reynière, Jean-Paul Sartre, Isak Dinesen and M.F.K. Fisher, and sampling fare from macaroni cheese in workaday London to oysters and sausages in seaside France, Appelbaum argues that though restaurants are inherently problematic as social institutions, they are characteristic of who and what we are. They are expressions of what we need as human beings. And for that reason, though they contribute to inequality they can also be used to promote the interests of cultural democracy.
 
A unique rethinking of the restaurant experience, at once entertaining and learned, Dishing it Out is an important contribution to our knowledge of food, literature, history and society.
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Editorial Reviews

Scotland on Sunday

“Appelbaum, it becomes apparent, loves to eat out, and has a fun and self-deprecating writing style when recounting his experiences. . . . This absorbing book is sure to inform your next visit to a restaurant.”
Terry Eagleton
“To be paid for eating magnificent meals puts one among the most privileged creatures on the planet, along with barons and billionaires. Robert Appelbaum’s absorbing history of this enviable breed will be hungrily consumed by all tasteful readers.”
Scotland on Sunday

“Appelbaum, it becomes apparent, loves to eat out, and has a fun and self-deprecating writing style when recounting his experiences. . . . This absorbing book is sure to inform your next visit to a restaurant.”—Scotland on Sunday

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781861898074
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 5/15/2011
  • Pages: 285
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


 

Robert Appelbaum is a senior lecturer in Renaissance studies in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University and professor of English literature at Uppsala University. His other books include Aguecheek’s Beef, Belch’s Hiccup, and Other Gastronomic Interjections: Literature, Culture, and Food among the Early Moderns, published by the University of Chicago Press.
 

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Table of Contents


Introduction

1. Restaurants for the Rest of Us
2. Grimod de la Reynière: Eating and Writing
3. Nausea
4. Her Majesty the Consumer
5. Dining Out in Paris and London
6. The Production of Production: Novelists and Cooks
7. Culture, Civilization and Resistance

references select bibliography acknowledgements

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