Author(s): Christoph Ribbat
Restaurants have never been exclusively about food. Since the first 'restorative' establishments opened in eighteenth-century Paris, restaurants have been places to see and be seen, to show off style and distinction - and to feel at home among strangers. The impatient customers keep the staff on their toes with their endless requests; but it is the waitresses, waiters and cooks, who are secretly in control and, sometimes literally, spitting into diners' soups. In the kitchen, at the counter and at the table, pleasure and hard labour, elegance and exploitation, cultural diversity and racism collide: restaurants are the mirror of society.With In the Restaurant, Christoph Ribbat brings together the engrossing gastronomical experiences of kitchen staff and genius chefs, waitresses and philosophers, gastronomers and sociologists. He looks behind the scenes to tell the story of one of our most essential social establishments: from the first Parisian gourmet temples to the rise of fast food, to the most innovative chefs of our time.
I imagined that this would be a book that opened new avenues into the study of "restauracion". What I read surpassed that by far. Where I expected a wrought and dense text, I found a playful story, most entertaining, and wonderfully documented, about the history and the anecdotes around restaurants -- Ferran Adria Fascinating, multi-layered, audacious and unique. This book somehow manages to join the dots and connect all restaurants, past and present, in a tale that mixes fact and fancy so compellingly that I read it in a single sitting Russell Norman, author of 'Polpo'
Christoph Ribbat (b. 1968) has taught in Bochum, Boston and Basel, and is now Professor of American Studies at the University of Paderborn.