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The Restaurant

A History of Eating Out
Narrated by: William Sitwell
Length: 8 hrs and 46 mins
Categories: Home & Garden, Food & Wine
4.5 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Summary

As read on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

The fascinating story of how we have gone out to eat, from the ancient Romans in Pompeii to the luxurious Michelin-starred restaurants of today.

Tracing its earliest incarnations in the city of Pompeii, where Sitwell is stunned by the sophistication of the dining scene, this is a romp through history as we meet the characters and discover the events that shape the way we eat today. Sitwell, restaurant critic for the Daily Telegraph and famous for his acerbic criticisms on the hit BBC show MasterChef, tackles this enormous subject with his typical wit and precision. He spies influences from an ancient traveller of the Muslim world, revels in the unintended consequences for nascent fine dining of the French Revolution, reveals in full hideous glory the post-Second World War dining scene in the UK and fathoms the birth of sensitive gastronomy in the US counterculture of the 1960s.

This is a story of the ingenuity of the human race as individuals endeavour to do that most fundamental of things: to feed people. It is a story of art, politics, revolution, desperate need and decadent pleasure. Sitwell, a familiar face in the UK and a figure known for the controversy he attracts, provides anyone who loves to dine out, or who loves history, or who simply loves a good listen, with an accessible and humorous history. The Restaurant is jam-packed with extraordinary facts, a book to listen to eagerly from start to finish or to spend glorious moments dipping in to.

It may be William Sitwell’s History of Eating Out, but it’s also the definitive story of one of the cornerstones of our culture.

©2020 William Sitwell (P)2020 Simon & Schuster UK

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Really makes you think about why we eat out.

A brilliant track through the history of people needing to be fed when not at home and why they do it when they are near their house, or because of the Chef or the trendiness of the cuisine. How some like the 'fuss' and some prefer the meal to be the backdrop to the conversation. Sometimes there is little interesting conversation and the meal becomes the main attraction. Latterly it has become the theatre. We all wonder what the future of eating out will be, when at last allowed to do so again!

Will we ever want 'theatre' on a plate? Will we keep photographing food whilst it goes cold, or will be happy with food that simply tastes delicious, fresh and something we can't do at home? This is a very current concept to ponder.

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Great Listen!

A very enjoyable book, well read by the author, painstakingly researched and avoiding becoming too academic.
Loved the chapters on the Romans and Ottamans but for me the most interesting sections were the latter describing the rise of British gastronomy in the twentieth century.

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  • James Cahn
  • 12-05-20

Loser book

Rambling . Pointless .... redundant ... no new insights or thesis ... uneducated historian that read a few books and thought he could write one. Very disappointing. Pass