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century, paris, meats and roast

RESTAURANT. The restaurant, as we know it, is an institution of comparatively recent origin. There have been inns and hotels from time immemorial, but they were chiefly for the entertainment of travelers—though we find evidence that even as early as the 16th century a goodly number of the residents of Paris had discovered the ease and convenience of dining in hotels, for a pamphlet of that period, entitled "A Trea tise on the cause of high prices," bitterly assailed certain popular establishments for their example of luxurious living and its effect on the habits of the community! This condition was, however, apparently peculiar to Paris and even there the estab lishments so favored were exceptional and their customers drawn from a limited class. The tavern and, in France, the cabaret, also gave some degree of service, but they were essentially places of liquid refreshment and generally of ill repute—if one wished to eat a substantial meal, it was in most cases necessary to order it in advance or to bring one's own supplies. There were also rotisseries in the larger cities of France at a very early date, and traiteurs from about the 16th century, but the rotisseries were forbidden by law to sell anything except roast meats, and the traiteurs anything but ragouts or stews, and their business was consequently confined chiefly to selling roast and stewed meats to be carried away by their customers.

The word "restaurant" originally signified only "strengthening," or "restorative," and it is still employed in that sense also in Prance—just as a "restaurateur" may be either a "restorer" of paintings, or the keeper of a "restaurant." It first attained culinary significance in the 16th century, being applied then to a nourishing beverage, introduced by a Dr. Palissy, prepared from meat and poultry, minced fine, mixed with barley water, spices, etc., and carefully strained. Later, it was applied to various other "strengthening" or "restorative" foods, especially to gravy soups, bouillons and similar preparations.

The first public eating-place which resembled the modern "restaurant" and was so designated, was that opened by a M. Boulanger, in Paris in 1765. Boulanger equipped the interior with a number of little marble-top tables similar to those found in many modern cafés and there he served his customers with bouillon, poulct all gros sel (plain boiled chicken sprinkled with coarse salt), and eggs. He met with success from the start and soon added roast meats, stews and various other dishes. His example was speedily copied, and the century and a half since the establishment of his initial venture has seen a steady increase in the number of restaurants in every part of the civilized world.