Photo by Cathy Pinsky
A few months ago, at a Westchester Library System’s Book and Author Luncheon, New Yorker writer and essayist Adam Gopnik shed real light on the matter. Gopnik, a fellow restaurant lover and fellow Francophile, had come to talk about his latest book, The Table Comes First: France, Family, and the Meaning of Food, which traces the history of the modern restaurant. Restaurants first sprouted in France—where else?—but not until after the French Revolution. (Before then, taverns and inns served food and drink but overwhelmingly to travelers, not locals—and there were no menus or fancy dishes.) FYI: The word “restaurant” is derived from the French word “restaurer”—that is, “to restore.”
And clearly people took to them. To be restored, that is, nourished? Yes, but also (and, get ready to be enlightened) to really, really connect. As Gopnik pointed out, when you are in a restaurant, you’re in a public space; there are people all around you, but you’re supremely focused on the one person sitting across the table. And who doesn’t want that kind of attention from a friend, a relative, a husband?
Which brings me to the issue you’re holding in your hands. It is our annual dining issue. We dedicate one issue a year to wine and food because we figure you love to eat out as much as we do. In this issue, we offer a list of 97 fabulous drinking and eating experiences. And here’s my advice: Enjoy as many of them as you can, taking your time and focusing on whomever is sitting across the table.