(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘menu

“The golden rule when reading the menu is, if you cannot pronounce it, you cannot afford it”*…

 

menu-read

 

Consider the restaurant menu.

By design, menus aren’t meant to spark conversation. But as restaurants take drastic steps to weather COVID-19, they are revamping their menus in a big way — and it’s hard not to think twice about the piece of paper in your hands.

IHOP is ditching its 12-page behemoth for a much cleaner 2-page menu. McDonald’s has slashed several items off its all-day breakfast menu. Applebee’s, Taco Bell, and Subway are all slimming down their offerings.

These high-profile shifts reflect what’s happening on a much more local level across the industry: 28% of restaurateurs are shrinking their menus because of the pandemic. That number is so large that New York Magazine recently asked, “Is It Time To Get Rid of Menus For Good?”

The underlying reasons for this are financial: Restaurants can’t bother with low-margin dishes. They have fewer employees on the payroll, so they want to be more efficient with a smaller set of meals. They’re prioritizing fewer — and cheaper — ingredients.

But rewriting a menu is no simple task. Every inch of text, from the typeface down to the order of items, must be workshopped for maximum profitability.

And when restaurants need help, they turn to a niche, little-known cadre of professional “menu engineers.”…

In a changing dining economy, restaurants are turning to a small group of experts who specialize in the science of menu design: “Meet the ‘menu engineers’ helping restaurants retool during the pandemic.”

* Frank Muir

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As we ask about the specials, we might recall that it was on this date in 1916 that Clarence Saunders founded the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain.  His Memphis “flagship” introduced the the modern self-service retail sales model– for which he received U.S. Patent #1,242,872– thus initiating the development of the modern supermarket (and indeed of self-service retail in general).  His Memphis store grew into the Piggly Wiggly chain, which is still in operation.

The first Piggly Wiggly store

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Clarence Saunders

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“Now, the supreme moment, the Christmas pudding was brought in, in state!”*…

 

Central Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1900

What did people eat in America 100 years ago during the holiday season? Menus catalogued by the New York Public Library from Christmas dinners served in the early part of the 20th century offer an interesting look at our ancestors’ dining habits. The menus come from a survey of restaurants, hotels, and even an Army fort’s Christmas dinner service…

Just in time to aid in planning this year’s holiday meal:  more (and larger) menus from an age gone by.

* Agatha Christie, “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”

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As we bake the bread to break, we might recall that it was on this date in 1843 that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol— a novella he’d written over the prior six weeks– was formally published; it had been released to book stores and the public two days later.  The first run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve, and the book continued to sell well through twenty-four editions in its original form.

Cover of the first edition

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 19, 2016 at 1:01 am

“As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it”*…

 

menu

From Open Table, a handy illustrated glossary of restaurant terms: Decode your menu.

* Buddy Hackett

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As we order with conviction, we might send tasty birthday greetings to Lafcadio Hearn; he was born on this date in 1850.  Also known also by the Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo, he was an international writer, known best for his books about Japan, especially his collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories (e.g., Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things).  But Hearn should surely also be celebrated for La Cuisine Créole (1885), his collection of recipes from leading chefs and noted Creole housewives who helped make New Orleans famous for its cuisine– widely-agreed to have been the first Creole cookbook.

440px-Lafcadio_Hearn_portrait source

 

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

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