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Restaurants, How It All Began!
Taking a meal in a public place has become a constant activity of our modern lifestyle and it implies much more than satisfying hunger. Sharing a meal with other persons is an important step of establishing and maintaining relations and social status.
The history of restaurants, although in a different form than we know it today probably dates from the time of Ancient Greece. Thermopolia was a public place in which food was served, usually located in town centers and along main roads, and with the same crucial role in ones social life. Although food served in public places never ceased to exist, it was not until the 18th century the first true restaurants (called bouillon) began to appear in Paris. The transition from the crowded, noisy and not very clean taverns was not an instantaneous process, but progressed almost at the same step with the rise of the middle class. The right to be served and access premium services was no longer an attribute of the elites, but something to be enjoyed by the general public.
There are many famous restaurants around the world, and creating any absolute hierarchies is difficult because there are factors upon factors to reckon with. A good point of reference is the Michelin Guide, a French publication which rates, among others, premium restaurants around the world giving them stars.
Restaurants, especially those serving local specialties, play a vital role in areas which claim touristic value, and this is because they offer the quickest insight to a new culture and its features. Understanding that something strange and unimaginable can taste so good is enough reason to make you tackle any other differences and obstacles between your culture and other cultures you come in contact with. Food cooked in different ways has long received the title of a worldwide “ambassador” and it’s easy to understand why.
The evolution of restaurants is currently recording a translation of accent from quantity to quality. Chefs are stepping from the shadows of the back kitchens, right on TV (see Jamie Oliver), revealing the secrets of eating healthy and raising the bar for food establishments all over the world. The general public is more an more concerned about the used ingredients, mode of preparation and health impact, leaving restaurant owners with no other option than to adapt and improve to the new demands.