Gopnik on Coffee and Wine

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‘French cooking was made not merely in the space between caffeine and alcohol but in the simultaneous presence of both, thus blending, in sequence, the two drugs by which modern people shape their lives. Good food takes place in the head space between them … Modern life is regulated by these drugs, morning to night–one speeding us up, and one slowing us down. … Alcohol is above all a myopic drug: it forces the imbiber’s attention ever more narrowly upon what’s in front of him. It closes us off and isolates us, that’s its odd charm. … Caffeine, on the other hand, is a far sighted drug. Several sips of cafe noir and the sipper feels charged up, the corners of the cafe gleam, and we look around the room, ready to take on the world again. We read while we drink coffee, romance while we drink wine. Coffee, one might say, is a flow drink, wine a focus drink. … Wine takes us from the world, and coffee restores us to it again. In between we eat.’

Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, London: Quercus, 2011, 32-33.

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