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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