Le Zinc

I like that a French colloquialism for a bistro, café, or bar is “le zinc” because of the classic zinc countertops that were common in pre-World War II France. Zinc countertops in cafés go back centuries in France.  The revered French author, Emile Zola, in his 1873 book “The Belly of Paris” used the expression “le zinc.” The slang phrase, “Rendez-vous à ‘le zinc’,” translates as “Meet me at the café.” So common were zinc countertops that there were even special soaps for cleaning “le zinc” followed with applying a coating of beeswax to protect its patina.

Although many zinc countertops in French cafés were confiscated during World War II by occupying forces with the metal being recycled into the Nazi war industries, you can still find vintage zinc counters.  It has even become fashionable for contemporary bistros looking for a historic ambiance to have brand-new “le zinc” countertops fabricated.

Zinc countertop at Brasserie Les Jacobins, Carcassonne
Zinc countertop at Brasserie Les Jacobins, Carcassonne
Advertisements

One thought on “Le Zinc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s