El Internacional, New York's premiere tapas bar and restaurant, had the world's first video menu, a 36-minute tape that told you everything you'd ever want to know about tapas, main courses, and desserts.

The menu unfurls in an underwater setting, waving gently like the flag that is the restaurant's motif. Text and images move across the screen in three bands, each bearing a different kind of information. At the top, the name of the dish is given in Spanish or Catalan. The center band depicts the food itself—before, during, and after its preparation. On the bottom, a scrolling text describes the origins and pleasures of each dish.

The video menu offered a feast for the eyes—and:
  • Information—learn, for example, how snail's stomachs are purified
  • Inspiration—these images reveal exciting new facets of exotic foods
  • Interpretation—if you can't pronounce it, you will at least be able to describe it
  • Ingenuity—historical anecdotes of a dubious nature enhance the conversational value of the meal. You will learn, for example, of the homesick princess who thrived on gambas al ajillo, or the hitherto unsuspected link between cephalopods and the assassination of Julius Caesar.

The video menu was the work of El Internacional's artist in residence Antoni Miralda, who also designed the restaurant. Texts were written by Bill Dyckes.

The opening of El Internacional, Tribeca, New York.

Texts copyright © 1985, 2004 by William Dyckes