What do you get when you cross a restaurateur with a lexicographer? In my time I have been both, which makes me – a menu pedant? Or someone who loves words so much that I know that there’s no ‘n’ in restaurateur.
Restaurant, but restaurateur. Why? These kind of questions just fascinate me. This week I was reminded of the principal function and importance of restaurants by the late, great Russell Norman, author and restaurateur. Norman was interviewed by podcaster extraordinaire Gilly Smith only weeks before his untimely death – just a few days ago – at the age of 57. During their conversation, he explained that the word “restaurant” derives from the French term “restaurer”, meaning to restore. This, he said, was a driving force behind his work.
In fact, the word “restaurateur” predates the word “restaurant”. It evolved from “restaurer” into “restaurateur” during medieval times when the noun form was created in honour of the surgeon’s assistant who cooked meat-rich soups to help restore patients back to health. This soup became known as a restaurant, and over time the word grew to encompass all food that gave strength. Eventually restaurants became known as places where restorative meals were served.
In remote parts of Tibet, where access to medical care remains limited, food is the first thing people turn to when they are under the weather, and soup is recognised as the best remedy of all. Dal is a close second – it has a calming and grounding effect. At Taste Tibet, looking after people has been a guiding ethos since our early market stall days. Russell Norman summed it up best in this line from an interview with The Times some years back: “It’s about more than just the food. I want people to feel transported, uplifted, to feel better about the world and themselves when they leave than they did when they arrived.”
Yeshi was a big Russell Norman fan, and a few years ago he had the chance to “restore” him at our stall when he came by for beef momos. We also have his cookbooks – Polpo and Brutto. If you’re local to Taste Tibet you can buy these at Caper, Magdalen Road’s fabulous new independent bookshop – which has signed copies of Taste Tibet as well.
If you need restoring his week, the restaurant is open all the usual hours, as follows:
Wednesday – Friday: 5-9.30pm (dinner only)
Saturday: 12-3 (lunch) / 5-9.30pm (dinner)
Looking forward to seeing you soon,
Julie and Yeshi
Opening hours this week:
Weds – Fri: 5-9.30pm
Sat: 12-3pm 🥢 5-9.30pm
☏ 01865 499318
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