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Fast food (also known as Quick Service Restaurant or QSR within the industry itself) is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form for take-out/take-away. The term "fast food" was recognized in a dictionary by Merriam–Webster in 1951.[1]

Precooked foods such as french fries or pizza typically must be used within a few hours, or they become dried out and unpalatable. The restaurant must balance availability with the expected numbers of customers, to avoid discarding unused expired product. Similarly, the food itself is often intended to be consumed quickly, using strong contrasts such as dry corn chips with greasy or wet toppings that will combine into a gooey mess if stored for later consumption.[citation needed]

Outlets may be stands or kiosks, which may provide no shelter or seating,[2] or fast food restaurants (also known as quick service restaurants). Franchise operations which are part of restaurant chains have standardized foodstuffs shipped to each restaurant from central ********s.[3]

The capital requirements involved in opening up a fast food restaurant are relatively low. Restaurants with much higher sit-in ratios, where customers tend to sit and have their orders brought to them in a seemingly more upscale atmosphere, may be known in some areas as fast casual restaurants.



History


The concept of ready-cooked food for sale is closely connected with urban development. In Ancient Rome cities had street stands that sold bread and wine. A fixture of East Asian cities is the noodle shop. Flatbread and falafel are today ubiquitous in the Middle East. Popular Indian fast food dishes include vada pav, panipuri and dahi vada. In the French-speaking nations of West Africa, roadside stands in and around the larger cities continue to sell—as they have done for generations—a range of ready-to-eat, char-grilled meat sticks known locally as brochettes (not to be confused with the bread snack of the same name found in Europe

Pre-modern Europe
In the cities of Roman antiquity, much of the urban population living in insulae, multi-storey apartment blocks, depended on food vendors for much of their meals. In the mornings, bread soaked in wine was eaten as a quick snack and cooked vegetables and stews later in the day at a popina, a simple type of eating establishment.[4] In the Middle Ages, large towns and major urban areas such as London and Paris supported numerous vendors that sold dishes such as pies, pasties, flans, waffles, wafers, pancakes and cooked meats. As in Roman cities during antiquity, many of these establishments catered to those who did not have means to cook their own food, particularly single households. Unlike richer town dwellers, many could often not afford housing with kitchen facilities and thus relied on fast food. Travelers, as well, such as pilgrims en route to a holy site, were among the customers


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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_food


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