What do restaurant menus have to say about the identity of a restaurant or the point of view of the chef? It turns out, menus are more nuanced and revealing than we might suspect. They reveal narratives that extend far beyond the bill of fare.They are collectors items and rich historical documents. They are highly curated and sometimes distinctly engineered texts. They may impact the dining experience more than you think. Reporter Sara Brooke Curtis explores menus as text and menus as literature.
Sara Brooke Curtis is an award winning radio producer. Her work has aired on The Splendid Table, KCRW’s UnFictional, KCRW’s Good Food, CBC’s Love Me, BBC’s Short Cuts, among others. She lives in western Massachusetts and loves recording sounds of everyday life and producing sonic worlds for listeners to surrender to and delight in.
Interested in learning more about menus? Check out:
John Kessler’s presentation “The Language of Menus” at the 2018 SFA Fall Symposium
You can even help the NYPL with its menu transcription project.
Special thanks to Matthew Latkiewicz for chatting about all things menus and philosophy.
Music from this episode is:
“How I Used to See the Stars” by Lee Rosevere
“Small Bummer” by Podington Bear
“Time Waste” by Podington Bear
“I Was Waiting for Him” by Lee Rosevere
“Cirrus” by Blue Dot Sessions
“Are We Loose Yet” by Blue Dot Sessions