Restaurant Guide of KC™ - Kansas City Food + Travel Blog

JCCC professor discusses dining democratizer Feb. 28

Restaurant lovers, historians will appreciate ‘Soldier of the Fork’

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Restaurants were a frightening place for the middle class 100 years ago. Those not in the upper crust of society had no idea how to act inside a high-class establishment.

Their hero came in the form of restaurant reviewer Nathaniel Newnham-Davis, a writer who more than 100 years ago offered pointers to diners not versed in restaurant etiquette.

Andrea Broomfield, professor, English, Johnson County Community College, will shed light on this unlikely hero in her presentation, “Soldier of the Fork: How Nathaniel Newnham-Davis Democratized Restaurant Dining in Fin de Si├Ęcle London.”

The event will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in Craig Community Auditorium, room 233 of the General Education Building. Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend. 

Historians, sociologists and “foodies” of any era will want to hear how Newnham-Davis made restaurants more accessible to all. His reviews first appeared in the newspaper and then were reprinted in book form – a sort of Zagat’s travel guide for those who were not traveling. Those books became instructional guides for the middle class to follow, leading to a restaurant revolution where families began to dine outside the home.

“It took away all the mystery, so people could go into restaurants and not be embarrassed. This was an important contribution to ongoing restaurant reviews, because suddenly it became more popular to dine out, and he instigated that popularity,” Broomfield said.

Broomfield is the author of two articles in “Gastronomica: The Journal on Food and Culture,” one on Newnham-Davis and another on the food served aboard the Titanic, and the book “Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History.” 

This fall, Broomfield takes her culinary research closer to home, presenting “Jazz, Barbeque and Beyond: What Kansas City’s Historic Restaurants Tell Us about Kansas City’s Culture and Legacy” Oct. 29 at Hudson Auditorium.

Both presentations are part of the College Scholars program at JCCC, which showcases faculty excellence in research fields that go beyond the classroom to make scholarly contributions to knowledge within the professor's academic discipline.

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