Non­fic­tion

The Dairy Restaurant

  • From the Publisher
March 16, 2013

For The Dairy Restau­rant, Ben Katchor retells the his­to­ry of where we choose to eat — a his­to­ry that starts with the first man allowed to enter a walled gar­den and encour­aged by the garden’s own­er to enjoy its fruits. In this bril­liant, sui gener­is book, Ben Katchor illu­mi­nates the unique his­tor­i­cal con­flu­ence of events and ideas that led to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of the dairy restau­rant in New York City. In words and his inim­itable draw­ings, he begins with Adam, enter­ing Eden and eat­ing the fruits there­in. He exam­ines ancient pro­to­cols for offer­ings to the gods and the kosher milk-meat taboo. He describes the first veg­e­tar­i­an prac­tice, the devel­op­ment of inns offer­ing food to trav­el­ers, the inven­tion of the restau­rant, the rise of var­i­ous food fads, and the inter­sec­tion between culi­nary prac­tice and rad­i­cal pol­i­tics. Here, too, is an ency­clo­pe­dic direc­to­ry of dairy restau­rants that once thrived in New York City and its envi­rons, evoked by Katchor’s illus­tra­tions of clas­si­fied adver­tise­ments, match­books, menus, and phone direc­to­ry list­ings. And he ends on an ele­giac note as he rec­ol­lects his own expe­ri­ences in many of these unique restau­rants just before they dis­ap­peared — as have almost all the dairy restau­rants in the New York met­ro­pol­i­tan area.

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