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Food culture commentator Yoon Deok-no says ‘origin of dinning out was healing’

Food culture commentator Yoon Deok-no says ‘origin of dinning out was healing’

Posted May. 16, 2015 08:52,   


Families have many reasons to have dining out together in May. The month includes Children’s Day, followed by Parents’ Day, and Husband and Wife’s Day, and the best way to maintain family peace is often to eat delicious food together and boost kinship at a nice restaurant. As family members laugh and enjoy eating together, they can boost family bond and ease stress. Dining out once in a while can serve as an opportunity for "healing." A restaurant is meant to be as such in the first place.

A restaurant is a place where people eat meals. Then, it is interesting to know that the term’s origin is something rather unexpected. The term derives from a word meaning "restore." The root of the word is a French word meaning a place that restores energy. When only considering the etymology of the word, restaurant is not a venue where people eat foods but a place that sells food for sick people.

There is a reason the term "restaurant" came to have such an unexpected origin. The world’s first restaurant opened in 1765. A person named ‘Boulanger’ opened a restaurant near today’s Louvre Museum in Paris, France, and put a signboard suggesting a place selling foods that enable a sick person to regain health.

When dining out culture was not developed in the past, people who would eat food away their homes were mostly travelers. They mostly ate at inns or deli stores regularly, and in order to distinguish his restaurant from those places, Boulanger promoted his restaurant as a store specializing in healing foods.

Initially, the restaurant sold thick meat soup or soup mixed with bread crumbs or meat. People who lost vigor after a long journey or could not eat well due to illness would recover vitality by eating thick soup there. This is the reason restaurant came to acquire the origin, meaning a place where one recovers vigor.

The milestone that caused restaurants to develop into places for dining out is the French Revolution. As noblemen demised and some took asylums overseas due to the revolution, chefs who would serve the former opened restaurants that sold food to ordinary people. As restaurants thus started to offer diverse recipes and foods, they turned into places for socializing where people eat delicious food and hold dialogue.

In other words, as restaurant became a place where people enjoyed life, healed their mental illness, and recover relationship, the origin of the term ‘restaurant’ meaning ‘restore’ remains valid until today. For this reason, people are advised to have dining out for a meal at a restaurant to strengthen kinship between loved ones, and boost joy for the mouth and spirit.

If people eat together, they naturally come to have a closer relationship. This may be rather offbeat, but we can find the reason for this in the Chinese word "rural village (鄕)" used in the term "hometown." The word "rural village" is a character that embodies the image of two people sitting face to face over plates with food, which is found in inscriptions on bones from ancient times.

A person feels strong affinity to others who hails from his or her own hometown because they were in relationship of eating food together. Furthermore, if they come to eat meals together every day, they develop into a family (食口, or people eating together) who eat meals from the same caldron. As such, be it in the West or East or at present or in the past, the best way to solidify ties is to eat meals together. This is the reason all family members should gather and eat meals together in the Family Month of May.