Obsession of the Day:
Unique Restaurants/ Plate It Up
You can tell alot about a person by the way they eat. In fact, you can tell alot about an entire society by studying gastronomy aka the science of cooking. There are many scientists who believe that it is, in fact, the way in which we humans eat that puts us at the top of the food chain. It could be argued that our consumption of food and drink is definitely unique, particularly when you consider the fact that humans are the only known species on Earth that heat their food and furthermore, the fire is lit, not just out of tradition, but also out of necessity. Imagine what would happen if you consumed a chicken the way a coyote would, by devouring it raw in a secluded place in the wee hours of the morning. So today, I serve you up another new obsession— Unique Restaurants. Bon Appetit.
Human Diet and the Paleolithic Period
For all intents and purposes, it should be known that ancient man had a much stronger stomach and a less finicky palate altogether. Should you ever get the urge to scroll through the stone age diet, you’ll be surprised to find that despite a lack of fire, our stone age ancestors from the Paleolithic period were die hard carnivores who appear to have consumed about 73% of their food intake from meat alone. Depending upon who’s telling the story, this meat was entirely raw. It is suspected that carbohydrates were introduced to the human diet when the concept of cooking was introduced. This is where the Paleo diet stems from— the idea that it is healthier to eat the way humans are believed to have eaten prior to the innovation of flame but of course to still cook the meat since modern day stomachs aren’t equipped to ingest raw meats.
Unique Restaurants: Who Started The Fire?
The question of when fire was actually introduced to the diet is much more complex than it appears. Scientists are in disagreement and their disagreement is millions of years apart and also dependent upon much more complicated scientific theories like evolution. One point they all do agree on is the profound impact the command of fire had in propelling humankind to the top of the food chain. What we also know is that prior to 3,000 B.C., cooking with fire was little more than described. People ate to satisfy their hunger and of course, to socialize but there were no spices, no drawers full of recipes, no fancy flatware and no cookbooks.
Even more interestingly, if you study the history of cooking, is that you will notice that during times of crisis humankind has the tendency to revert back to its ancient ways, to leave out the seasonings and cast the elaborate silverware aside. Because of this, you can often get a glimpse into how nations and generations are faring simply by setting your eyes on their meals. In effect, it is indeed feast or famine.
The World’s First Recorded Cookbook-China 3,000 B.C.
By The earliest recorded cookbook is believed to have come into existance some 47 centuries ago. It emerged from China via the great emperor Shennung and it contained everything from pasta to soyfoods. Its technictal knowledge remains unparelleled to this day.
Who Invented the Fast Food Chain? Rome or China?
Did you ever pull up to a drive through window and wonder where it all began? Well, you now know the origin of recipes and cookbooks so it might not surprise you to learn that China had a hand or two in some of the very first restaurant-like kitchens of the world but guess who their competition was? Rome. That’s right; the toga clad cosmepolitanites were set to leave their mark on everything, including cooking. At the peak of Roman rule, civilians could have their fill of food and drink by pulling up to the local thermopolium which you see pictured above. Thermopoliums were social spaces where communal meals were cooked and consumed. They were also quite often the place where violence broke out and laughs were shared.
The Chinese precursor to Mickey D’s was more than just a restaurant. It was a full on experience complete with vendors, menus and theatrical performances. The earliest known Chinese restaurant was situated in Eastern China and it was there that a myriad of entrees were served. Delicacies ranged from tea to soup, from dumplings to pie and this Asian restaurant hub became a popular gathering place from locals and travelers alike. Today, buried in the ashes of Asia and Pompeii, archeologists are still uncovering remains from the predecessors of modern day eateries.
The Fall of Food and Economy
The Dark Ages was a dark time, particularly for foodies. At approximately 1,000 A.D., following the fall of Rome, gastronomy teetered on the edge of non-existence, at least in the European section of the globe. There were other happenings for sure, some even more catastrophic and others much less so, but when Rome fell, food fell like the Romans. Culinary art simply wasn’t at the top of the list of priorities in this space of decline. Society crumbled and barbarity ensued. Plates and minds alike were vacant. People were eating to live and, if the theory that commandeering in the kitchen is what keeps civilization afloat holds true, then it could be said that when the culinary coals went out the light of humanity did the same.
In regards to general meal consumption in the Dark Ages, it’s safe to say that things were truly darkest just before the dawn. Historians have pinpointed a link between poverty and cannibalism, particularly in Prehistoric Europe as it seems to have played a large role in the spread of various different plagues. On the contrary, it would appear that this heinous practice altogether vanishes whenever social circles prosper and food reemerges as art. This brings to the forefront an immensely pressing question. How important is the art of eating really?
Africa, the Middle East, the Spice Trade and Beyond
While the Roman Empire may have fallen and chaos swept the European landscape, countries like Africa were fairing far better and the proof was, quite literally, in their pudding. Enter the spice trade and you will soon see that while Rome and China were busy building up an intimate eating atmosphere, Africans and those of Middle Eastern descent had something entirely different abrew— Seasoning. It was, indeed, all the rage. The search for spice was so prolific at the time that salt and pepper drove the world economy and Africa and the Middle East were well ahead of the game. Some of the common spices that were treated like treasure aside from pepper and salt of course were:
The last spice mentioned played a huge role in the cultivation of coffee, a topic deserving of its own obsession page.
“The best ecclesiastical brains on the continent studied the egg, and discovered the formulae for making it appear on lenten boards as a rose, a cabbage or a roasted duck.”
m.f.k. fisher “the art of eating”
unique restaurants around The World
Today, the culinary arts have reached an all new plateau and restaurateurs aim to build eateries that are aesthetically pleasing and satisfying for the palate. Below, you will find amazing and unusual eateries located all over the world.
The Wreck Bar-Florida U.S.A.
This one’s rather appropriate when you consider my first obsession. The Wreck Bar is a sunken city themed restaurant complete with live mermaids and realistic looking debris. Come in off the sands of Fort Lauderdale and cool down with the sights and sounds of the sea. Other awesome Florida Faves include the Murder Mystery Dinner Train and Kissime’s Medeival Times. Whether you prefer jousting, mystery or mermaids, there’s a unique restaurant for you in Florida.
Dinner in the Sky-Various Locations
One table for up? Why absolutely. In case you can’t tell from the above photograph, Dinner in the Sky is exactly what you;re picturing in your head right now. Do you see the giant red crane looming over the landscape dangling an ablong tented contraption overhead? Well, that’s the dinner table and seated there are some rather daring foodies waiting to dig in. The gentleman depicted below is one such customer. He looks pretty thrilled to be dining at high altitude.
Dining in the Sky is a unique restaurant that started out in Belgium and is slowly but surely making its way across the globe. You can catch this hard to miss attraction popping up just about everywhere now, from Copacabana to Dubais. Wondering what’s on the menu aside from the clouds? Dining in the Sky proudly serves an aptly diverse menu that the chef described as “Classical French Mediterranean with strong Pacific Rim & Asian influences”. Eaters are urged to dress for wind and weather as this table can be adjusted to max out at 165 stretching feet into the atmosphere.
The Snow Castle of Lumilinna- Finland
Finland’s exotic Snow Castle boasts the largest restaurant made entirely of snow in the world. Notice we said the largest, not the only. Other “cool” places you can go to get your meals and your seating on ice include:
- The Pommery Ice Restaurant in Montreal
- The Minus5 Ice Bar which maintains locations in Vegas, Orlando and NYC
- The Chill Out Sub Zero Lounge in Dubai
Shady Maple Lancaster, P.A.-U.S.A.
You may have heard of the concept of farm to table dining. If you aren’t familiar with farm to table dining, all you really need to know about it is that the food you eat in a farm to table restaurant comes directly from a farm. It’s not processed, packaged or shipped which is why it’s now a trending delicacy. What you may not know is that this concept definitely isn’t new to Pennsylvania. There are several farm to table dining establishments in the state of Pennsylvania that have been implementing this practice for decades. Shady Maple is one of them but what makes this particular eatery so unique is that it’s a farm to table buffet. Oh, and also, it’s run by the Amish.
So if you like the idea of an Amish run, fresh from the farm buffet that’s situated right on the outskirts of Pennsylvania Dutch territory and just so happens to be adorned in floor to ceiling 3D sculptures depicting historical moments, you’ll love Shady Maple. It’s a three story building complete with a gift shop and surrounded by authentic Amish attractions.
Treehouse Restaurants-Various Locations
Dr. Suess must have been onto something all those years ago because dinner in a tree, while it might not be green eggs and ham, is definitely trending. Some of the most awe-inspiring treehouse restaurants on the map to date include:
France’s Treehouse in Dienne
The U.K.’s Alnwick Gardens
New Zealand’s Yellow Treehouse
If you’re a diehard Dr. Suess fan, you can try other dining options he suggested in his books such as:
- Dining on a train at the All Aboard Diner in Chicago-U.S.A.
- Dining on a plane at Los Aviones- Puerto Rico
- Dining in the dark at Blindekuh- Zurich, Switzerland
Or, how about this for a unique restaurant…
Suess Landing Restaurant —Green Eggs and Ham for All
When it comes to unusual eateries it appears I haven’t had my fill, so be on the lookout for a future installment related to this post. Something along the lines of unique restaurants a-z or within that vicinity.
upcoming obsessions Fueled By this topic
Writing about unique restaurants has me thinking about spices, bazaars, the Mediterranean, coffee, museums, streamliners, Dr. Suess and tree houses. Stay tuned for any or all of these subjects in upcoming posts.
the obsession that started today’s topic
Whenever possible, I like to gather my information the good old fashioned way—by heading over to the library. Below are the books and websites I relied upon to create this post along with which part(s) of the topic they covered.
- For a thought provoking look at eating we highly recommend the foodie oriented novel “The Art of Eating” by M.F.K. Fisher.
- For more on the dietary evolution, see this post from National Geographic.
- To continue reading about ancient Chinese and Roman restaurants, check out history.com.
This webpage contains unaltered versions of Wikimedia’s Food and dining in the Roman Empire, Tree House , Islands of Adventure and Flickr’s Dinner in the Sky at the top, Yellow Treehouse and Dinner in the sky, Riga 2013 (38) as well as iha.com, all of which were available under Creative Commons licensing.
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