DON’T LET RUSSIAN SOLDIERS WAIT TOO MUCH!
The word “Bistrot” has different etymologies, one of those goes back to Napoleon
The word appears at the beginning of the 1800’s and the french origin comes from the expression “Bistroquet”. Back in time that word was used to define winemakers or merchant assistants.
Another origin goes back to 1814 and it is more curious.
Napoleon arrived in Moscow but he was beaten by Field Marshal Kutuzov thanks to his wait-and-see policy and the endless spaces of “Mother Russia”. Tsar Alexander I’s troops, along with Prussian and Austrian troops, were fighting back and arrived in Paris in 1814.
Napoleon wasn’t there and he left the command to his brother Joseph, who was not able to keep the city.
The Russians entered Paris on March the 31st 1814 and their proverbial thirst had to be stopped. The troops started to spill out into taverns, cafes and dives: they asked to be served “bystro”, fast.
Soldiers were usually in a rush either because they feared to be surprised from officers (see the alcoholic ban), or maybe because french landlords, to take revenge on them, were extremely slow to serve them.
Legend says that the Russian word “Bystro” has arrived to us becoming Bistrot but the real story of this place has been lost during the century, as well as the Italian osterie or the English pubs.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)