Archive for February, 2010

Excerpt from Galignani’s New Paris Guide (1837).

“Formerly, privileged persons alone could keep eating-houses in Paris. In 1765 a cook freed the public from this restraint, and having prepared a room for refreshments, placed over the door the following parody of a passage in Scripture ;—” Venile ad me qui stomacho laboratis, ct ego restaurabo vos.”

This attempt was successful and afterwards, when the Revolution brought many strangers to Paris, and the domestic habits of the Parisians were altered, these establishments increased every year, and are now to be found in all parts of Paris. In the restaurants there is generally presented a bill of fare called la carte, with the price of every article, aad some of these bills contain upwards of 300 dishes.

Ladies frequent the restaurants, as well as the cafes. In these houses there are generally private rooms called cabinets particuliers, in which two friends or a parly may dine in private. Besides the principal and second-rate restaurateurs, where the dinner is a la carle, there are other houses where dinners are served for a fixed sum per head. At the best of these houses a plentiful dinner, including wine, may be had for two francs. In the vicinity of the Palais Royal, however, and indeed in most parts of Paris, a dinner may be had for 30, 25, and even 22 sous.

To give an idea how luxury and economy may be combined, it is only necessary to observe, that soup, 3 dishes at choice, a dessert, bread, and a portion of wine, may be had for 22 sous. There is also another class of cooks in Paris, called traiteurs, or petty restaurateurs, whose principal business is to send out dishes, or dinners ready dressed to order. A family residing in lodgings, or at an hotel, will find it the cheapest mode to make a hargain with the traiteur, to be supplied for a fixed period, with a certain number of dishes daily, at any hour agreed upon.

A person may also dine at some of these places, but it is not considered comme il faut. The restaurants are nearly as numerous and as splendidly adorned as the cafes. To the latter it is customary to retire immediately after dinner, to take a demi-tasse of coffee, and a petit verre de liqueur, instead of sitting over the bottle as in England. Coffee may, however, be had at the restaurants.”

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