Years ago, while in the Spanish city of Pamplona, ​​we walked into Café Iruña, described by Ernest Hemingway in his classic The Sun Also Rises. Time seemed to have stood still there, as if the owners never wanted to part with his ghost.

Hemingway also visited the Parisian café-restaurant Les Deux Magots on the famous Boulevard Saint-Germain; a meeting place for Pablo Picasso and Simone de Beauvoir, among others, and to this day a favorite place for writers, artists and visitors who want to soak up some of that intellectual magic, drink from the same wine glasses and taste the dishes from the same plates.

Restaurants and cafes acquire a decadent image in times of crises. They are often regarded as a luxury, accessible only to those who can afford a meal or drink outside the door. But they are much more than that: it is in restaurants and cafes where strangers become friends and happy moments celebrated with loved ones. Relationships are created, new ideas are gained, novels are written. They are the ideal place to have a lot of buzzing debate, meet kindred spirits and make plans. The French Revolution started in a Parisian cafe.

According to the American sociologist and writer Ray Oldenburg, the hospitality industry is a ‘third place‘, a place where people gather, a ‘home away from home‘. From ‘first place‘is your home, the’second place‘ your workplace, the ‘third place’ the place where social bonding takes place.

A good cook draws you into his world for the duration of the meal

You can see, for example, in Spain that restaurants and cafes are the cement of society, where everyone gathers on the terraces after the siesta. Young, old, elderly, all mixed up. If you are alone, you don’t have to feel lonely.

In countries in Asia, the stalls on the street are the solution for people without their own kitchen. The prices of the dishes are democratic and not infrequently each stable specializes in one or a few dishes that have been passed down from parent to child for generations.

Food is so much more than just a condition to stay alive. It is also a way to feel connected to your environment.

A good cook or chef will also draw you into his or her world for the duration of the meal. Whether that is through a simple dish that moves you through its simplicity, or an exuberant eight-course meal that leaves you stunned. A cook also reminds you of the seasons via the plate, is inspired by the harvest of the moment and gives you not only new memories to think about often, but also ideas on how to reinterpret familiar vegetables and dishes in a tasty way.

And thus restaurants and cafes touch on the most important pillars of life: social, cultural, emotional and sensory.