William Sitwell’s New Book: "The Restaurant: A History of Eating Out"
This week we were lucky enough to speak to William Sitwell who has just launched his new book. He has written this piece for Community Cheer.
A few weeks ago I was a restaurant critic; chewing over the speed of service, touching plates to see if they were suitably warm, wondering if the kimchee was a little too tart for the robata-grilled lamb hearts, pondering on the juxtaposition of table and art work on the walls. Now I’m wondering if I’d be the first to get chucked out of the balloon. I mean I’m not exactly a frontline worker. And as someone who also earns a living from travel writing and hosting dinners I’m a little hesitant at raising my hand and asking for financial assistance from Mr Sunak.
And then, slap bang in the middle of lockdown, my new book is published. It’s called The Restaurant. It’s a history of eating out. Whoops, I thought. The launch was cancelled, events cancelled, TV interviews cancelled, bookshops shut. Was this rather unfortunate timing to put it mildly? Well, as Loyd Grossman once would have said, I have deliberated, cogitated and digested. And I can now tell you that there is in fact no better time to bring out a book on the extraordinary phenomenon of restaurants. We miss them, by God we dream about them. I even yearn to catch the eye of a waitress and ask for the bill.
They are a cornerstone of our culture, a signpost of our civilisation, a statement of our place and relevance in the world. Mid-lockdown and the time to dream about eating out is now. My timing was impeccable. Forget throwing me out of the balloon…I’m driving the damn thing. And if the wind gets up, we might have one hell of a ride and a bumpy landing, but we when we do hit the ground everyone’s following me: straight to the best restaurant. Bon Appétit!!