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The forgotten history of the world’s first restaurant

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27.08.2021

From the rise of click and collect to the advent of dark kitchens, the very concept of the restaurant is undergoing major changes. Even before the pandemic hit, consumers were moving away from the physical location of the restaurant, a transformation which has only been accelerated by coronavirus. These new ways of eating question the very identity of the restaurant itself, and invite us to investigate its origins.

The history of the restaurant is entwined with the history of France, its birthplace.

The word restaurant as we understand it today was accepted by the Académie Française—the body that governs the official use of the French language—in 1835. Until then, the “restaurant” also called “bouillon restaurant” (restorative broth), was a dish composed of meat, onions, herbs, and vegetables. A broth with medicinal and digestive properties, its aim was to restore people’s strength.

The term restaurant therefore initially had a medical connotation, and the places that sold this healing broth in the 1760s were also called “health houses.”

The first restaurant as we know it today opened in Paris in 1765 on the Rue des Poulies, today the Rue du Louvre. On the front of the shop is engraved the Latin phrase from the Bible:

“Venite ad me omnes qui stomacho laboratis, et ego vos restaurabo.”

This translates as, “Come to me, those whose stomachs ache, and I will restore you.”

The owner’s name was Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau. Other writings mentioned a certain Mr Boulanger. The establishment sold........

© Fast Company


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