In a word European cafe bars are romantic. But here are a few more:
Wholesome, humble, a place of lustful passion and heavy caffeine abuse.
Cafe bars do more than serve rich, smooth espressos. They facilitate eristic conversation and encourage consumption.
They’re a juxtaposition: marble tables varnished with cigarette ash. French double doors and cheap rose painted plates.
I’ve spent much of my time in them, pen in hand, creating what one man suggested was foreign scribble. Little did he know I was writing of his potent aroma of Marlboro cigarettes.
There is no prestige, no governance. The staff are often lazy. They don’t clear plates for hours, rather they puff away on a cigarette till it’s time to close the doors. They endeavour to make you speak to them, drink with them, and smoke away the scorched afternoon.
The women are sharp and pointy, like a knife ready to slice through the daily orange and polenta cake. Then you explain how you adore cake, and you realise they’re actually the sweet honey that’s laden through your slice.
There is no respectable time for anything. Wine is a breakfast accompaniment. Coffee, desert’s. Meals are peculiar. Bread is slashed with olive oil, cold cuts, and fresh figs.
The cafe bar is social. It’s a public home. A young family’s weekend itinerary. The alcoholic’s retreat. My source of creativity, and grasp for a foreign home.
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