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Jim Chevallier

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The Last Bookstore Hosts Food Historian Jim Chevallier's Look at Dining Out in Paris Before the Restaurant

On September 24, food historian Jim Chevallier speaks at Los Angeles' Last Bookstore about how Parisians went out to eat before the restaurant was an option, drawing on his new book A History of Paris: From Roast Mammoth to Steak Frites.

Los Angeles, CA, August 20, 2018 --( Los Angeles’ Last Bookstore is a place to explore, its innumerable books tucked away in slanting lanes and Hobbit-friendly nooks, alleys and tunnels, a selfie-taker’s paradise, paired with a mezzanine of galleries to offer a break from the winding and wandering among volumes on every subject. The expansive, intricate space also includes a seating area which doubles as a stage, and on September 24 this stage will host food historian Jim Chevallier, author of the new book A History of the Food of Paris: From Roast Mammoth to Steak Frites, speaking on the history of dining out in Paris before the restaurant.

Long before a Frenchman invented the restaurant, Parisians ate at taverns, inns, cabarets, traiteurs, and table d'hotes. Many of these places were what we would call "trendy" today and, as today, people didn't just go there to eat, but to socialize, be seen, even seduce. This lively look at a Paris where many already enjoyed good food and good times will be drawn from one chapter in Jim Chevallier’s new book, the first comprehensive history of the food of Paris, food which, through the restaurant, haute cuisine and other innovations has influenced that of the whole world.

Paris has, after all, played a unique role in world gastronomy, influencing cooks and gourmets across the world. It has served as a focal point not only for its own cuisine, but for regional specialties from across France. For tourists, its food remains one of the great attractions of the city itself. Yet the history of this food remains largely unknown. A History of the Food of Paris brings together archaeology, historical records, memoirs, statutes, literature, guidebooks, news items, and other sources to paint a sweeping portrait of the city’s food from the Neanderthals to today’s bistros and food trucks. The colorful history of the city’s markets, its restaurants and their predecessors, of immigrant food, even of its various drinks appears here in all its often surprising variety, revealing new sides of this endlessly fascinating city.

The history of how early Parisians dined out is only part of this panorama, but rich enough in itself, crossing centuries and social classes in its progress towards an institution universally known today: the restaurant. More than just history, this talk will be a revelation, unfolding layers of the lively life of one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

The talk will take place on September 24, 2018 from 7:30 to 9:00 PM, PDT. The Last Bookstore is at 453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The Pershing Square metro stop is two blocks away.

To reserve a seat for the talk, visit
Jim Chevallier is a contributor to Modernist Bread (2017), Savoring Gotham (2015), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, 2nd ed. (2012), the Dictionnaire Universel du Pain (2010) and Consuming Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century (2007). His work on the history of the baguette and the croissant has been cited in Libération, the Smithsonian Magazine, and a number of other publications. He is a former musician, radio announcer, coin dealer, and IT specialist.
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