Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Quick Gallopin

These days my office stops are much less frequent than I'd like. I've had way too many responsibilities, forcing a wave of respectability that really should be uncharacteristic for me but is becoming tiresomely prevalent. And let's face it, without Dee-Dee Sue around, I'm not as suggestible. Oh sure, I stop off for a café-crème or an espresso whenever I pass the office. But I haven't had the time - or the companionship - to put my behind on that bar stool for an entire afternoon or evening, like in the good ol' days.

Companionship isn't a requirement, as inevitably I know someone in the café. And if not, the U-shape of the bar lends itself to playful (or flirtatious) smiles and head-nods (or eye-rolls) and ultimately full-on conversations. New friends are easily made. Everyone standing around the bar is part of the community. Part of the clan. And there's always the barman.

The other night I was thirsty. Thirsty for a cold beer. Thirsty for the companionship of that very same café clan. Thirsty for a break from all this undesired respectability. Yet it clamored: Small creatures to be fed, bathed and indoctrinated with French grammar. There wasn't much time for a stop, not a real stop.

But there was time for a gallopin.

The standard size of a beer in France is the demi, or 50 centiliters (cl). It's more or less a pint of beer. I say more or less, because a US pint is 47.3 cl, and a UK pint is 56.8 cl. Has anyone a clue why the British pints are more voluminous than American ones?

But the gallopin is about 20 cl, the size of a juice-glass, or the content of a medium-sized wine-glass. It was invented its namesake, Gustav Gallopin, who opened up a brasserie near the Bourse and catered to financiers and journalists. Nobody seems to be able to explain why, but he had the idea to offer up this smaller sip of beer. And now you can go to any café or bar in Paris (or most of France) and order a gallopin and get just enough beer to wet your whistle. Which sometimes, is all you need.


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