In 1993, the Prague-based newspaper Lidové noviny (The People's News) ran a short-lived restaurant review column, Básník má hlad (The Poet Is Hungry). The author was Petr Král, a poet and essayist who had recently returned to Prague after two decades of exile in Paris. In this article, I contextualize Král's restaurant reviews within his oeuvre and in the history of Czech restaurant culture. The first half describes the evolution of restaurants in Czech culture and literature from the First Czechoslovak Republic through the communist period. The second half is devoted to close readings of Král's restaurant reviews. I find that they are consistent with the restorative nature of the Czech political and economic transition after communism. To Král, the restaurant represents a microcosm of society. Thus, in the spirit of restoration and revitalization, he elevates the genre of restaurant reviews, infusing them with political urgency and a sense of poetry.
To Revive Delight: A Poet's Restaurant Reviews in Early 1990s Prague
Abigail Weil is a doctoral candidate in Harvard's Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, where she focuses on Czech and Russian prose. Her master's thesis concerned Josef Škvorecký's novel Two Murders in My Double Life in the context of transitional justice in the Czech Republic. Her dissertation explores writer-journalists in Russia and Czechoslovakia in the early twentieth century. Other interests include feminism, food writing, performance, queer studies, and mystifications.
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Abigail Weil; To Revive Delight: A Poet's Restaurant Reviews in Early 1990s Prague. Gastronomica 1 November 2017; 17 (4): 75–87. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2017.17.4.75
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