Food for Thought: Menus That Made History

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle enjoys Vincent Franklin and Alex Johnson’s delightful history of notable menus

When did Britain’s first Indian restaurant open? What could the first diners on the Orient Express in 1884 enjoy for dinner? What food was on offer on board the Titanic on its last fateful night in April 1912? What was the signature burger in the first ever McDonald’s restaurant? These questions, and many more, are answered in a wonderful – and wonderfully produced – new book by Vincent Franklin and Alex Johnson, Menus that Made History: Over 2000 years of menus from Ancient Egyptian food for the afterlife to Elvis Presley’s wedding breakfast. And the answers are frequently very surprising.

Let’s take one of those questions I just asked. When did the first Indian restaurant open in Britain? The 1970s? The 1960s? In fact,

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