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La restauration ferroviaire entre représentations et consommations / Railway Catering Between Imaginary and Consumption

Consommateurs, images et marchés / Consumers, Images and Markets

Series:

Jean-Pierre Williot

La restauration ferroviaire est peu connue alors qu'elle entre dans l'économie de multiples prestataires de service dans le monde depuis le XIXe siècle. Elle intéresse une demande quotidienne. Fournir des denrées et des boissons aux habitués des gares et des trains est une source d'innovations régulières. Les propositions alimentaires s'adressent à des clientèles nombreuses, aux choix très différents et aux exigences multiples en termes de prix, de conditionnement et de goûts. Depuis l'invention des buffets de gare, qui ont pris la suite des auberges routières, et la conception d'une restauration en voyage proposée dans le célèbre dining car, les formules mises au point n'ont cessé d'être transformées. Qu'il s'agisse d'un plateau repas ou d'un grignotage, d'un repas gastronomique ou d'une manière de tromper l'attente, chaque voyageur a expérimenté la restauration ferroviaire. Il en résulte des représentations mentales, des récits de voyage, des situations subies ou gardées en mémoire comme des instants incertains ou des moments de confort rassurants. On en retrouve la trace autant dans des BD et des Mangas que dans des scènes improbables portées au cinéma ou sur le support d'affiches commerciales. La restauration ferroviaire – il conviendrait d'ailleurs d'écrire plutôt « les restaurations ferroviaires » – peut ouvrir de nombreuses pistes d'études littéraires, historiques ou anthropologiques, mais aussi d'études des techniques ou d'histoire économique de la consommation. C'est l'approche initiatrice dont cet ouvrage rend compte par des études saisies dans la diversité des cultures, aux Etats-Unis, en Inde, en Russie, au Japon et en Europe, du XIXe au XXIe siècles.

 

Rail catering is unknown even if it is an economy of multiple service providers in the world since the nineteenth century. It concerns a daily demand. Supplying food and beverages to the consumers and travellers of stations and trains is a source of frequent innovations. Food proposals present very different choices and several requirements in terms of price, packaging and tastes. Since the invention of the station buffets, which have taken over from the road inns, and the design of a restaurant catering proposed in the famous dining car, the formulas developed have not ceased to be transformed. Whether it is a ready-made meal or a snack, a gourmet presentation or a take away during an expectation, each traveller has experimented railway catering. The result is mental representations, travel stories, situations experienced or kept in memory as uncertain moments or reassuring time of comfort. Traces of it are found in comics and Mangas as well as in unlikely sketches taken to the cinema or on commercial poster stands. Eat and drink in railways open so many literary, historical or anthropological studies, but also studies of techniques or economic history of consumption. It is the initiating approach to this book, which is reflected in studies of the diversity of cultures in the United States, India, Russia, Japan and Europe from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

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A Feast for Body, Soul and Eyes on Board the Orient Express, the trans-Siberian Express and other Trains de Luxe (Natalia Starostina)

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A Feast for Body, Soul and Eyes on Board the Orient Express, the trans-Siberian Express and other Trains de Luxe

Natalia Starostina

Associate Professor Young Harris College

One of the most important symbols of the Belle Époque was the Orient Express, the train that connected Paris and Constantinople. The Orient Express was immortalized in many fictional works and films, and its very name brought association with luxury and a sense of exclusivity. Everything about the Orient Express promised a great adventure: an exotic destination – distant Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire – beautiful comfortable interiors, interesting company, and sumptuous meals on board the train. In the book From Paris to Constantinople, Edmond About (1828-1885), a well-known French writer and journalist, devoted many pages to the description of beautiful interiors, sumptuous meals, and a unique opportunity to carry witty conversations with interesting companions.1

Today, travel on the Orient Express remains the symbol of unprecedented luxury and comfort, and many legends surround this train. It was immortalized in the works of many writers, including those by Agatha Christie (1890-1976), Paul Morand (1888-1976), John Dos Passos (1896-1970), and Graham Greene (1904-1991). The dining salon of the Orient Express was represented in such movies as: a part of Bondiana From Russia with Love and a screen version of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. The wagon-restaurant of the Orient Express was associated with an exquisite atmosphere and, of course, superb feasts. The dining room of the Orient...

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