Restaurants are an important part of our culture.They are responsible for foods trends and introducing international cuisines to communities . There's a new book celebrating them and their impact on the American diet, featuring some of the US's most famous eateries.
Food critic and regular contributor, Tejal Rao wrote about this great new book featuring the most influential restaurants in today's New York Times Food section. "Ten Restaurants That Changed America" (W.W. Norton and Company Publishers) was written by Paul Friedman who is surprisingly a medieval history professor at Yale University. He took on the massive task of researching two hundred years of restaurants , culling through hundreds of thousands of restaurants to culminate in the top ten. The list spans the 19th and 20th Centuries and the American continent. One of the first and most famous is New York's Delmonico, the city's most famous eatery. It started in 1827 as a French pastry shop by the Swiss born Delmonico brothers. They were the first and the most instrumental in bringing a sit down restaurant to a city full of oyster stands and rowdy , boisterous taverns that served just basic dishes., It was the first restaurant to import foods, namely truffles from the Dordogne region of France. Delmonico's also was one of the first to use local fish and turtles caught from the Eastern seaboard. Their menu was the gold standard for all French restaurants for one hundred years.
Chain restaurants such as Howard Johnson''s and Schraft's also changed American eating and paved the way for fast food giants such as McDonald's and Wendy's. Howard Johnson's , still going and famed for their fried clams, pioneered the idea of franchise restaurants, They were also the first for strategic planning, situating restaurants along highways.The idea appealed to traveling families who didn't want to eat at the truck stops ,mostly populated by truckers and sales reps. Schraft's , also was an innovator, It started earlier , in the 1910's and was a Northeastern chain of candy stores. It added a lunch counter and seats, offering a new concept- dining options for unescorted women. Restaurants would not sit women without a male companion. Schraft's didn't believe in that. They also were the first business to hire women as waitresses along with giving maternity leave to pregnant workers.Other restaurants that made a difference were Mama Leone's, Alice Water's Chez Panisse , the famed Sylvia's in Harlem , the equally famed Antoine''s in New Orleans and The Mandarin. In one way or another they have influenced generations of restaurant owners and chefs.
Restaurants have always been important in American history and culture. "Ten Restaurants ThatChanged America" shows just that, how they influenced our eating and cooking habits.It is a fascinating read into how vital these eateries are to our psyche and image.