If you were to look up “bistro” in the Oxford dictionary, you would discover 2 things. First, “bistro” is defined as “a small restaurant.” And then, the dictionary directs the reader to “see café.” As if they were one and the same issue!
And as if “small restaurant” very told you anything concerning either.
But then, I suppose one should not expect nuance to be the strong suit of the essentially literal Oxford dictionary. The downside is that, when it comes to the bistro and therefore the café, nuance is all.
Oh, to make sure, both café and bistro resemble a “tiny restaurant” in that people who frequent either do tend to eat and drink there.
But might furthermore call a library a newsstand, or the recital at a local dance studio a Broadway musical.
For the energy contained in these legendary Parisian institutions puts them in a class by themselves.
And also the energy of each is unique unto itself.
As you will have noticed, whenever you read regarding the legendary artistic and literary figures gathered in Paris throughout the 1920s and 30s, it seems that, to a person (and to a woman), all of them did their philosophical and literary discoursing whereas seated in those colorful very little French café chairs in those colorful very little French cafés. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Matisse, Miller, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Millay, Nin, Stein . . . the entire heap of them.
But never in those colourful little French bistro chairs in those colourful little French bistros. Think about it: whoever heard of Hemingway or Fitzgerald or Miller plotting their novels during a bistro?
Indeed, the excellence is a matter of nuance, that delicate degree of distinction perceived by the senses. Or by the mind. An odor and an aroma are, once all, each scents. Or smells. And if cafés and bistros are, as Oxford insists, both tiny restaurants . . . well, the cerebral very little French café is coffee, croissants, and philosophical dialogue, while the marginally wicked bistro is wine, music and romance.
That is, there’s a way of something simply a bit risqué regarding the bistro. You might take your mother to a café. But to a bistro?
And nevertheless, if you stood the café chair and the bistro chair facet by aspect in some neutral house – like your mother’s kitchen – who would be able to inform the distinction?
Might it be that, rather like werewolves of the furniture world, café chairs become bistro chairs once the sun goes down?
Away go the notebooks of Fitzgerald, the sketches of Matisse! Out comes the delicious wildness of Bricktop and Piaff and Baker!
And those intellectual very little French chairs are transformed into (are you prepared for this?) those sexy very little French chairs.