The eating-house was a pillar of late nineteenth-century American cities, feeding famished industrial workers and harried professionals. Urban wage laborers came to depend on cheap lunch joints for a quick midday meal, in the process altering Americans’ relationship with food. Eating-houses familiarized many Americans with the habit of purchasing cooked meals, eating rapidly with strangers, and the increasing distance between diner and farmer. The beef-centric meals served at such establishments helped strengthen the nationwide network of industrial ranching. This prose piece explores the experience of dining in an eating-house from the perspective of a hungry laborer.

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