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‘Bistro’: a French legacy of humiliation?!


As the story goes, the word ‘Bistro’ entered the French language after the Battle of Paris (1814), when hungry Russian officers – who had just conquered Paris – would shout at waiters ‘bistro’, which means quickly, or hurry up, in Russian.

In time, it came to stand for small french restaurants serving, quickly, slow-cooked foods that were made in advance. 

Typically, bistros offer a moderate-priced menu in a modestly designed setting. 


When in Paris be sure to check out the sign at 6 Place du Tertre in old Montmartre (see picture below). It marks the spot where ‘Bistro’ was first coined.     

Sign about the origin of the word ‘Bistro’ in Paris (source: wiki commons)



Some new etymologists suggest that ‘Bistro’s origin is the word ‘bistrouille’ which describes brandy mixed in coffee, but I definitely stick with the old school version. 

Bonus fact: The Battle of Paris was the last battle of the Napoleonic wars after which Napoleon was exiled to Elba Island. The Napoleonic wars total death toll is estimated to amount to 3,500,000 souls. According to some researchers, it is even as high as 7,000,000, including civilians. This means that roughly 5% of Europe’s population was killed during the Napoleonic wars and almost 8% of France’s population.

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