Bistros Throughout History

Bistros Throughout History

Seeing as a small venue selling alcohol and rustic, home-cooked local foods is a fairly wide concept, it’s almost impossible to say when the first bistro ever opened. However, if we remember that the term was first defined in late 19th century Paris, then we can get a little closer to finding the source of the matter. Certainly, the first true bistro could have been no later than 1765. According to popular knowledge this was the year that the first resteraunt in Paris was opened by a soup vendor called Monsieur Boulanger. Before he opened up his shop, selling thick local broths and hearty bread, most Parisians would buy various foods from street vendors and then eat at home – or on the street.

A Modern Myth

Monsieur Boulanger also hung a sign above his shop proclaiming the restorative properties of his stacked soups “Boulanger débite des restaurants divins” it said – or ‘Boulanger sells the restoratives of the Gods.” This fits with the known etymology of the word resteraunt, which does in fact come from the French for restore or refresh. As the story goes, the first Bistro may have fallen foul of pre revolution French politics. Mr Boulanger added a whole sheep’s foot to one of his meals, and authorities deemed that he had crossed the line from a soup to a stew maker – and that, apparently, was a big deal. It was enough to get the new bistro owner taken to court, where he demonstrated that he did in fact cook the soup-like sauce entirely separately before adding the joint of meat. Don’t ever say the French don’t take their food seriously!

Unfortunately, though, that yarn might be just be as twisty and stinky as an 18th century Parisian back alley. There’s no concrete evidence that Mr Boulanger existed at all, let alone being the man who was taken to court for opening the first bistro. Which is a shame, but regardless – the first bistro did not exist before around that time. So now we know the origins of the first bistro-like resteraunt – but what about the word itself?

Faster, Faster

The word Bistro’s actual roots are not entirely certain, but it may come from a number of French dialect and slang terms including ‘bistraud’ (wine waiter) or ‘bistouille’, which refers to poorly made or stored alcohol. For a long time, it was thought that the word may have came from Russian occupation of Paris during the Napoleonic Wars. Cossack soldiers would frequent these cheap drinking and eating houses and summon the waiter by shouting ‘bistro, bistro’ – which means faster in their native tongue.

Even though this is now disputed by most historians, the term bistro continues to be used to designate a homely, cheap resteraunt in many parts of Russia too – including dozens of such venues in Moscow. Whatever the truth, the concept certainly has long historical associations and its great that people can continue to enjoy traditional French bistros in Paris to this very day.

Top bistros in Berlin – part 2

Top bistros in Berlin – part 2

In our first part of the top bistros in Berlin, we have covered places that do not just offer simple food for their customers but provide exceptional menus. To continue with our coverage, we will be taking a look at some bistros with the best desserts and the freshest ingredients. If you want to know more about the best places in the city, do not stop reading now!

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Top bistros in Berlin – part 1

Top bistros in Berlin – part 1

The top bistros in Germany’s capital Berlin have over thirty Michelin stars (rating system to grade restaurant’s quality) altogether. If you are looking for something to eat when traveling around Berlin, try to look for bistros with Michelin stars because you would not be disappointed.

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How to Design Your Own Bistro Kitchen – Part 3

How to Design Your Own Bistro Kitchen – Part 3

In our third and concluding part of how to design your own bistro kitchen we take a look at the furniture choices that are open to you. This includes tables, chairs, bar stools and all other items that will fit in to your bistro design. Part two looked at kitchen lighting and accessories and now all that is left is to make a statement with the furniture you select.

Chairs

When you are thinking of bistro chairs your first option is wood, whether with bergere backs and seats, upholstered, or plain wooden slats, wood is the natural choice for authentic bistro furniture. Your choice of seating will really reinforce the Parisian cafe feel you are attempting to replicate. Tables can have steel bases with wooden or marble tops and accompanied by simple wooden chairs. A great effect is to opt for non-matching chairs, perhaps from second hand shops. If you want a truly authentic look then buy a real reproduction of a classic chair such as a bentwood, this will be a feature and a talking point. Why not paint a cheap dining set that is a blatant copy of a bentwood set, replace the top with a contrasting marble top to your paint selection?

Bar Stools

Bar Stools

If you have opted for an island kitchen then bar stools are the perfect answer to your seating dilemma, a bar and a couple of stools give a great bistro look. A good idea if your design is modern bistro is to contrast this with traditional wooden stools but perhaps made to look more antique with paint washes etc. These stools will make a bold statement of design and patterning. A completely different option is to go super industrial, crafted stools made out of tubular and sheet metal to match the stainless-steel items dotted about.

Budget

Have a definite budget calculated before you start to design your kitchen, to achieve that great bistro look may cost in certain areas, but the total overall look may be achieved for less than you may think. Remember the odd item of interest to contrast and bring interest to an otherwise dull space. Think out of the box to maintain your budget but still get a similar effect. One idea if marble tops are out of your budget then use a marble cutting board, decorate it with pepper grinders and quint bottles that contain olive oil. Have a matching marble accessory such as a pestle and mortar elsewhere in the kitchen that combined give a bigger impression. And if stainless steel is out of range, hang up shiny pots and pans, fish kettles and unusual kitchen utensils. Create with your imagination and use antique kitchen items filled with limes or lemons or scented herbs.

Fish kettles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many ways to create the bistro-style that you love, remember often this can be achieved with the most unusual of items that people do not expect to see in a kitchen. Save the majority of your budget for the obligatory items that a good kitchen must have, the rest is all left to imagination and clever design.