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History of fine dining


gfron1
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I'm preparing a presentation of molecular gastronomy (I'm terming it hypermodernist cooking), and I want to demonstrate the path we've taken as a society to get to el Bulli and Alinea, but I don't feel that I have the personal history to be confident in my timeline, so I'm throwing it out here to see if I'm off base.

My thought is that historically we've dined (in restaurants) on peasant cuisine. If we deemed it "gourmet," then it was most likely French or an exotic international cuisine, but most likely French. As we approached the 70s and then 80s, classic French cuisine was joined with more haute American cuisines which then exploded in the 80s and 90s. I can take it from the 90s, but I don't know if anything I've just said holds water.

I want to talk international dining and not just the US - during the past century. From my childhood (60s-70s), fine dining meant expensive French or Italian. I don't remember anything else. But when I got to the 80s, I remember all sorts of fine ethnic restaurants, and many nicer (what we called) California restaurants.

Okay, so I plead ignorance. Can someone set me straight and feel free to point me toward references to educate myself.

Thanks.

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You might want to look at wikipedia for a start (link)

If you have time, you might want to consider looking back a few centuries and read Rebecca's Spang book on the Invention of the Restaurant in Paris after the French Revolution. I haven't read it but I heard good comments about it. You can read a lot ofit on Google Book (link)

There are quite a bit of information here but I suspect you might prefer this site.

My knowledge is unfortunately limited but I think you should probably mention the "Nouvelle Cuisine" episode.

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As we approached the 70s and then 80s, classic French cuisine was joined with more haute American cuisines which then exploded in the 80s and 90s.  I can take it from the 90s, but I don't know if anything I've just said holds water.

The history of fine dining as you have outlined is really inextricable from the development of different approaches to cooking and their impact on what restaurants are.

You can get a great start in your search by consulting this thread, which presents a timeline and list of key players in the movement from classical French Cuisine through Nouvelle Cuisine to Techno-Emotional (ie. el Bulli) Cooking.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Thanks - very helpful. At dinner tonight, a friend with a couple of decades on me reminded me that fine dining used to be equated with steaks. He also asserted that it was more about place than food - which seems to hold true to my memory as well.

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