A La Mort Subite
But the real beauty of A La Mort Subite lies deeper: it takes us back to our early childhood, when beautiful bars like this were still abundant. Mort Subite is the name of a beer and means “sudden death”. But, contrary to what many Flemings think, it has nothing to do with the percentage of alcohol in the beer that would make you black out instantly.
No, mort subite is a term that used to be called out by thosewho played pitjesbak, an old Flemish dice game. The one who lost the game was called den dooie (the dead one). When players were running out of time, they decided on what we call in English a “sudden death” version – a mort subite.
Thirty years ago, pitjesbak was still being played in every Flemish house and pub. For me, it is simply impossible to imagine my grandfather, who died when I was seven, without a pitjesbak at his side.
So why is this Brussels brasserie called Mort Subite? Well, because the guests at the former La Cour Royale – mostly clients of the National Bank of Belgium, who preferred drinking a beer and playing a game to waiting their turn in line at the bank – were playing pitjesbak day and night. The bar owner changed the name of the bar to A La Mort Subite. When the owner started brewing his own beer, he gave it the same name. And it is still served at the same spot where it was invented.
7 Rue Montagne-aux-Herbes-Potagères, tel 02 513 13 18; www.alamortsubite.com
This article first appeared in Flanders Today