Skip to main content

Posts

Featured

Itemized bills for meals before the restaurant

Why seek out itemized bills from before the first restaurant (1767)? Above all to combat a common idea that, before the restaurant, one could not order individual items – a claim which is quickly disproven simply by reviewing the numerous itemized accounts surviving from French meals across the centuries. For more about this aspect, see “The Restaurant Was No Big Deal (Seriously)”.
But these bills – or more typically, the account items corresponding to them – are also informative, and often entertaining, in themselves and offer a vivid glimpse of how French dining shifted across the centuries, one which goes beyond the usual aristocratic feasts found in cookbooks. Even an early aristocrat here largely orders peas, cheese and herring, often with mustard, in inns. Not a peacock in sight.
Most of these bills are from cooks (or sometimes traiteurs, who were effectively the same). Several others are from taverns or inns. More rarely, some are from pastry cooks, even if the meals provided go …

Latest Posts