Written by Lori Thiessen
When I think of café life, I often think of two images. One image is the completely elegant and refined European coffee shop of the late 19th century with beautiful ladies in long, elaborate gowns and magnificent hats sipping delicately out of fine bone china cups.
The other image is of a rather seedy café on Paris’ left bank, like Montmatre where they play “Le Jazz Hot” and the air is full of the smoke from blazing Gauloises. The café of the 1920’s is a place of disenchanted, American ex-pats and artists looking for something more in life than just a pay cheque. They want to drink deeply from the well of life.
Of course, there are other equally potent images from coffeehouse culture. The Beat Generation wore nothing but black (long before the goth culture took it over) and were nihilistic. Poetry readings took place in these places and marijuana smoke blended with cigarette smoke to obscure the view and the mind.
Coffeehouses or cafes today seem rather tame and plain by comparison. Oh yes, there are the gorgeous European coffeehouses still around. But they are in Europe usually. North American cafes tend to be rather pallid, slightly industrial looking spaces, although I must admit that many cafes are trying to move up market with lush interior decorating. But, by and large, modern North American cafes lack that certain well, je ne sais quoi, if you’ll pardon my French.
Perhaps time will bestow on a certain grandeur or romantic raffish quality to a select few. One never knows.
Q: What do you think of when you think about cafes or café life?
Until Next Time,
May your coffee always be freshly brewed!