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258 × 200 × 26 mm
248 pages
158 illustrations, 80 in colour
15 Jul 2019

Dining Out A Global History of Restaurants Katie Rawson, Elliott Shore

A global history of restaurants beyond white tablecloths and maître d’s, this book presents restaurants as both businesses and as venues for a range of human experiences. From banquets in tenth-century China to the medicinal roots of French restaurants, the origins of restaurants are not singular – nor is the history this book tells. This book highlights stories across time and place, including how Chifa restaurants emerged from the migration of Chinese workers and their marriage to Peruvian businesswomen in nineteenth century Peru; how Alexander Soyer transformed kitchen chemistry by popularizing the gas stove, predating the pyrotechnics of molecular gastronomy by a century; and how Harvey Girls dispelled the ill repute of waiting tables, making rich lives for themselves across the American West. An informed and entertaining history that takes readers from the world’s first restaurants in Kaifeng to the latest high-end dining experiences.

‘Unlike many books that delve into the history of restaurants and begin with France (or wayside taverns elsewhere), the academics who have written “Dining Out,” a compelling volume, start in the Bronze Age. Their definition of a restaurant is elastic, referring to places where strangers might have gathered to eat and drink, including the symposiums of ancient Greece. Long before social upheavals gave rise to the modern restaurant in France, there were what we would consider to be restaurants in 12th-century China; the authors cite a traveler’s memoir of a huge dumpling house with more than 50 ovens. (The influence of Chinese restaurants globally is significant.) The book discusses the economic and technological evolution of restaurants; restaurant service and hierarchy; tipping; the influence of transportation; sexism; chain restaurants; and food writing up to the present day.’ — Florence Fabricant, The New York Times

‘This book is for the dedicated foodie, a comprehensive social history of eating out, from the bronze age to modern times. There’s much to nibble on: for example, the word “restaurant” was originally a popular restorative broth sold in France in the 1700s. By the 1780s it had morphed into what we now understand as a restaurant. There are about 150 photographs, about half in colour, and the authors include interesting archival excerpts from journals, documents and literature.’ — Toronto Star

‘What sets Rawson and Shore’s contribution apart from other histories of restaurant culture is their insight into not simply European restaurants, but their even more ancient Asian counterparts. Appearing in China in the twelfth century, restaurants developed at a time when Chinese cities held three times the population of European capitals. Expansion of trade routes meant that business people ended workdays far from home, and travelers from Sichuan yearned for familiar food even in northern provinces. Japan inaugurated ritualized, sophisticated food service, and women waited tables long before Harvey Girls appeared on the American frontier. Today’s foodies may be surprised to discover that farm-to-table cuisine appeared as early as nineteenth-century Manhattan, when Delmonico’s started its own Brooklyn farm to supply fresh produce. America’s burgeoning cities introduced an astonishing culinary range of ethnic foods, experimental chefs, and today’s ubiquity of fast food.’ — Booklist

‘A truly international survey of restaurant history. Flavorful and scintillating.’ — Paul Freedman, Chester D. Tripp Professor of History, Yale University

‘Rawson and Shore offer a tantalizing trip through the history of eating out from the first restaurants up to today. We meet the restaurant as a place that bristles with innovation, as an institution that has fundamentally altered the ways in which food is prepared, served, and consumed, and one that has itself undergone profound social transformations - in the kitchen staff, the service personnel, and the diners. This lavishly illustrated book and its lively text makes the reader hungry for more.’ — Dr Susan Pollock, Professor at Freie Universität Berlin (and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Harpur College, State University of New York at Binghamton)

‘In their sweeping history of the restaurant, Katie Rawson and Elliott Shore are at pains to stress that the very social context in which public eating takes place invites competitive distinction, commercial wiles, the display of prestige, an atmosphere in which the customer is encouraged to feel as though he – and then, much later in history, she, too – is being feted . . . Dining Out is written with accessible lucidity, its passage eased by Reaktion’s characteristically generous approach to illustration. If you are boarding a long distance train to the family Christmas, expecting to be consigned periodically to the lumbering trolley and its cargo of carbs and sucrose, the photographs herein of the gilded dining cars of the great era of American railroad travel will feel as smart as salt in the wound.’ — The World of Fine Wine

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Katie Rawson is Director of Learning Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania and writes on food history.

Elliott Shore is professor of history emeritus at Bryn Mawr College, and has written on the history of restaurants, advertising and German-America.


1 Eating Away from Home: The Long History of Restaurants
2 The Restaurateur and You: The Private and the Public in the Early French Restaurants
3 Elite Eating and the Democratized Restaurant
4 The Menu and the Chef
5 The Maître d’ and the Waitress
6 Road Food
7 The Machine in the Restaurant
8 Chains and Local Gems
9 Global Dining

Photo Acknowledgements