Is the restaurant an ideal total social phenomenon for the contemporary world? Restaurants are framed by the logic of the market, but promise experiences not of the market. Restaurants are key sites for practices of social distinction, where chefs struggle for recognition as stars and patrons insist on seeing and being seen. Restaurants define urban landscapes, reflecting and shaping the character of neighborhoods or standing for the ethos of an entire city or nation. Whether they spread authoritarian French organizational models or the bland standardization of American fast food, restaurants have been accused of contributing to the homogenization of cultures. Yet restaurants have also played a central role in the reassertion of the local, as powerful cultural brokers and symbols for protests against a globalized food system.