Monday, 30 November 2009

Restaurant as the spiritual homeland

Part One

I have this theory and I wanna share. We need a public space. We need somewhere that allows us to connect with humanity in a general way. It could have been a church in the past, but that's dead now. It could have been the family, but that's as dead as the dining room these days. But always better than both was the open outdoors fire with food cooking over it.

You can see that image alive in the barbeques of suburbia or the hog roasts of the rural pubs. It's the smell of cooking meat, people faces lit by flames and this sense of communal and physical warmth that comes from the flames.

I reckon that restaurants are the modern equivalent of this communal fire. Just as farming/civilisation/government began with the desire for beer and bread, we have older blood coursing through us. We need to gather and share our food: its the origin of the word companions.

Be honest: no-one goes to restaurants because they're hungry and thirsty. They want to see and be seen. They want to push their boundaries a bit with the help of alcohol, they want to get laid. We want to belong. As pubs, religion, family has faded away in England, restaurants have grown and they continue to grow. Come recession, come terrorist outrage, it's table for two at eight – always bloody eight.

That Alan Yau made his mark with restaurants that pioneered the swedish school dinner look. All those people crammed together on the long benches. It makes him the money and gives everyone else the illusion of that cosy communality, touching our elbows and slurping our noodles. We must truly want to belong to something to go to places like these.

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