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Menus are as old as the hospitality industry itself. Some of them date back to the times of Ancient Egypt and China. Hieroglyphic inscriptions have been found on walls where pharaohs talked about their elaborate feasts or in China where menus have been found on ancient pottery. Menus in the old days also served as a status symbol of what the host could afford to offer. Even the menus themselves many times were an expensive art of work and given to the guest as souvenir.

It is said that the oldest menu found was by archaeologist Sir William Cristal in 1922 when he was excavating the pyramid of an unidentified Egyptian Prince. Carved on stone tablets, hieroglyphic inscriptions were set for a meal to be presented to celebrate the birth of twin sons, one of which would be one of the most powerful pharaohs in Egypt, Ramses III.

From engraved stones, wooden boards to digital menus, the purpose has remained to be pretty much the same – a tool to showcase the culinary creations from the simple sandwich menu to the most exquisite wedding menu. Though at times, no cost for the production has been spared – menus have been found engraved in golden plates, hand stitched in fine silk and more. They often reflect as much of the creativity as the culinary skill of the chef.

Though, menus are much more then just a communicative tool between the chef and the customer. Menus are a reflection of styles, trends and fashion of their times. Even numerous artists have donated their skills in the art of menus. Its been said, that Picasso on number of occasions left his creative talented in forms of simple drawings on restaurant menus, while waiting for his food.

Menus come in different formats. Whether they are still in a traditional format or in a brightly lit digital display, menus are unique tools that can inspire and educate our curious minds and palates.

Many of these great menus remain left or forgotten in files and drawers of Chefs, Food and Beverage professionals and restaurateurs, dining connoisseurs and collectors.
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