Menu from Boulanger, or what was served to visitors of the first French restaurants
The menu of the first restaurant in Paris did not differ in a wide selection of dishes. It was possible to order only broth or soup. And these dishes had a therapeutic purpose – to “restore the life” of visitors.
People from ancient times believed that soup is an excellent remedy. Recent studies have shown that chicken soup has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. But already at the beginning of the XII century, doctors recommended chicken soup to fight colds. And even the world’s first restaurant served only liquid dishes, in particular broths.
In the 1700s, the French catering system was quite developed. At that time, most city dwellers did not have full kitchens in their homes. And so most Parisians ate from common boilers of street vendors or in local hotels.
If a person was with money, he could visit several specialized shops, each of which specialized in a certain product, for example, traded fried meat or baked goods. At that time, authorities allowed butchers, bakers, and food sellers to adhere to their own rules of trade. These street vendors, known as traiteurs, usually belonged to guilds based on the type of items they sold. So, there were guilds of confectioners, bakers, butchers, etc.
In 1765, Mr. Boulanger decided to deviate from the existing rules and open a new type of food service in Paris. Boulanger is credited with creating the modern concept of the restaurant as a place where you can sit for a while and order food that is prepared on the spot. According to Larousse Gastronomique, the French culinary Bible, Boulanger created an institution whose name proclaimed: “Boulanger débite des restaurants divins”, which means “Boulanger sells fortifying dishes for the gods.”
It was in the days of Boulanger that the word “restaurant” appeared. At that time, “restaurant” meant “restorative,” and it was a light meat-based soup served at these establishments. It was believed that the broth restores the strength of people who feel unwell. It is somewhat paradoxical that the first restaurants were aimed at health, and not at satisfying gastronomic needs.
Envious rivals sued Boulanger for infringing on the monopoly of the local guild of cooked foods. They claimed that his new dish, lamb leg in white sauce, was no longer soup, since the dish needed to be stewed.
He was clearly an enterprising restaurateur, managed to convince the court that the dish was actually soup. He separately prepared the sauce on the side of the egg yolk and poured it on lamb, while his competitors slowly prepared all the ingredients, including meat, in stew.
As a result, Boulanger and his followers were allowed to continue cooking. In the end, the French Revolution eased most of the catering restrictions. Over the course of 30 years, more than 500 new restaurants have opened in Paris, which over time have become increasingly large and bizarre.
Dozens of bone soup recipes that exist today are a reminder of Mr. Boulanger’s first restaurant for healthy food.
Over the years, the concept of the restaurant has changed a lot. One has only to find out what was served in Moscow restaurants of the Soviet era.