Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Café in French, means coffee house as well as coffee. The English and the Dutch, for example, tended to distinguish place and substance. There has ever been a wealth of words to describe locales devoted to eating and drinking—trattoria, inn, tavern, hôtel, cabaret, bistro, chophouse, dining room, restaurant, snack bar, and the like—and each has usually had a specific history and significance. Some, however, have seen their meaning broadened: restaurant and café in particular, perhaps reflecting the importance of the French contribution to eating out. Cafés or coffee houses (the koffeehuis in Holland) were first started with the adoption of coffee in W. Europe in the 17th century. There are remarkable parallels with their earlier establishment in the Middle East as coffee spread beyond its S. Arabian heartland (Hattox, 1985). Now, linked to three exotic substances (coffee, sugar, tobacco), all more or less stimulating, the new enterprises were focus to an emerging urban class that embraced the opportunity for interaction and exchange.