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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


Edited By 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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On the Dining Car, in the Station Restaurant and from the Platform Peddler : Tea on Railways in the United States and Japan, 1860-1960 (Robert Hellyer)


On the Dining Car, in the Station Restaurant and from the Platform Peddler

Tea on Railways in the United States and Japan, 1860-1960

Robert Hellyer

Associate Professor of History – Wake forest University – USA

Although often characterized as overwhelmingly preferring coffee, Americans have been inveterate tea drinkers since the founding of their nation. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they would take tea with meals and pause daily for “tea time,” usually at around four or five pm. During roughly the first century of the republic, Americans consumed primarily green teas produced in mainland China, which held a monopoly over the world market. When new producer states and regions emerged after 1860, Americans came to also enjoy oolong teas from Taiwan, Japanese green teas, and later black teas grown in India, Ceylon, and the Dutch East Indies.

Drawing on contemporary newspaper accounts and menus, this chapter will trace the consumption of tea on US trains and in station restaurants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It will outline how some on-board and station services offered a non-descript choice of “tea or “coffee” but others gave customers the option of green, black, and oolong teas. In the 1920s and 1930s, Americans came to consume more black teas sold as national brands. Yet on trains and in station restaurants, customers could choose brands of coffee and coffee substitutes but not specific brands of tea. Into the 1960s, dining cars and...

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