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It was a coffee house, hence the word "cafe." Cafes were places educated people went to share ideas and new discoveries.
Patrons spent several hours in these establishments in one "sitting." This trend caught on in Europe on the 17th century.
When cafes opened in France they also sold brandy, sweetened wines and liqueurs in addition to coffee.
In providing for the various needs, strict cost accounting was necessary, and here, perhaps, marks the beginning of the present-day scientific foodservice cost accounting..." ---West and Wood's Introduction to Foodservice, June Payne-Palacio & Monica Theis, editors [Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River NJ] 9th edition, 2001 (p.Religious orders and royal households were among the earliest practitioners of quantity food production...Records show that the food preparation carried out by the abbey brethren reached a much higher standard than food served in the inns at that time...According to the current edition of Larousse Gastronomque (p.194-5), the first cafes (generally defined as places selling drinks and snacks) was established in Constantinople in 1550.
Another thought to ponder: how military foodservice impacted civilian industry.