Rumah Makan, Etc.

When you first saw the title of this blog post, were you able to figure out the topic to be discussed?

RUMAH MAKAN is Indonesian for restaurant; strictly translated, rumah means “house”
and makan means “food,”  therefore, “house of food.”

I was so excited to read — and understand — signs of  various establishments when I visited Yogyakarta in Java and Ubud in Bali many years ago.  Sekolah is “school,” buka means “open,” rumah sakit is “hospital,”  etc.  The discovery of similarities in Philippine and Indonesian speech made me realize how intertwined our cultures are.  We have similarities in physical features, vocabulary words, cuisines, and other aspects of culture.

When I looked up for this article the Malaysian word for restaurant, this is the answer I got: restoran.  In Tagalog, it was restawran.


So, where did the word restaurant come from?  This eating establishment, as we know it today, originated in Paris, France in the 18th century.

The French Revolution of 1779 to 1789 triggered the decline of absolute monarchies and replaced them with republics and liberal democracies.  Feudalism was abolished:  nobles and the clergy lost their powers.   Aristocratic society was dismantled, throwing in disarray the system of privileges and dependencies.

Chefs de cuisine (literal translation: heads of the kitchen), who used to run big kitchens in palaces, lost their jobs.  One of these expert cooks opened an eating establishment where he served bouillons restaurants (meat-based soups  intended to restore a person’s strength).

Bouillon, in French cookery,  is a soup prepared from broth.   The noun is derived from the verb bouillir, meaning “to boil.”  What is boiled?   Diced vegetables, herbs, and the bones of beef, poultry, shrimps, and vegetables, alone or in combination.

(Nowadays, we can make short-cut bouillon soup by putting into boiling water a small cube of concentrated seasonings that impart the taste of chicken, beef, or vegetables — the wonder of the modern food technology!  Just add some vegetables and pieces of meat.  Voila, you have soup!)

The first restaurant had several tables and a menu, or a list of dishes.  The tables were covered with cloth, and food was served in nice bowls with accompanying tableware, signifying the common person’s new-found ability to dine  as only the rich and powerful used to do.


To be continued.
The restaurant has a looong, interesting history.


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