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Ice cubes, skim milk, places with AC, & tap water in restaurants--what a spoiled US citizen missed most about home when visiting Europe

Ice cubes, skim milk, places with AC, & tap water in restaurants--what a spoiled US citizen missed most about home when visiting Europe

Jul 14th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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Right there with you Julies...I missed the ice too.......I want my drinks cold..not warm. In the US we're used to free refills so it doesn't matter what the drink to ice ratio is. As I'm not a fan of sodas, I miss the ice tea. I often asked for tap water and always got it with a smile. If I only drank wine with dinner....after walking/touring all day and being extremely thirsty....well, let's just say I'd need help getting back to my hotel. PS Also a big skim milk fan.
Jul 14th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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I don't get this skim milk problem. Throughout most of Europe, there is 0%, 2% and whole milk everywhere -- it is even color coded in the supermarkets. Just about any café or restaurant serves the 2% version in France, because that is what most adults drink. Whole milk is pretty much reserved for children.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 01:16 PM
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Tap water is readily available most places in Europe. However, bottled water is so cheap, most people drink that instead. As for missing Coke, to me it is refreshing to see other types of soft drinks offered other than the the ubiquitous Coke-Sprite-Pepsi that you see in the states. I remember when I was a kid walking into the corner store and getting a lemon-lime or black cherry soda. Unfortunately the Coke Pepsi monopoly has pretty much run the smaller more interesting sodas off the shelves here in the US (as you can tell I'm not a big Coke/Pepsi fan!). However, in Europe I do miss a little ice in drinks in the summer.
zootsi is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 02:47 PM
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I can find skim milk in a grocery store when staying in an apartment in Europe. But, ever try to get skim milk in a cafe or restaurant?

As far as AC, I know that some locations I would never consider going to without having a room with it. But, other places in Europe where it typically cools down at night I have never even thought of making it a requirement for a room. And, I learned the hard way about that this trip. We sweltered in Dusseldorf the night before we flew home. Lithuania typically has high temps in the low 70s at this time of year, with cooler nights in the upper 50s. Instead we got high temps close to 90.

The other thing about AC is that most restaurants in Europe don't have it. So, that isn't even a good alternative for a hot day.

Now back to the diet Coke question. I drink Diet Coke in the US, but really find the taste of Coke Light in Europe disagreeable. Why the difference?
julies is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 02:55 PM
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My dog.
Carrybean is offline  
Jul 14th, 2006, 03:07 PM
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Why would anybody want to drink skim milk or even order this in a restaurant? They don't have it, because it tastes repulsive. I want the real stuff, fresh milk for real money.
logos999 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 09:37 PM
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I miss Asian food!! Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese.... Something spicy, with soy sauce, hot chili peppers, and rice . No matter how many Michelin star restaurants, I crave Asian food after a couple of weeks.

We have a tradition for our European vacations. On the last evening, after a couple of weeks awesome French or Italian meals, we stay in a big city and look for Asian food. Had some great Thai/Vietnamese food in Paris. Not as much luck in Italy.
linjudy is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 10:09 PM
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I've never not been able to get tap water at a restaurant in Europe - if they smiled at you, it was probably in joy that an American actually knew to ask for it, since many don't.

When Coke Zero was hitting the shelves here in the US, I read an article that explained the different sweeteners in different countries; I think it referenced this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_coke. Some sweeteners weren't allowed in the US but are in Europe, thus the difference in taste between US and European versions of Diet Coke/Coca Light. Now those same (European) sweeteners are being used in Coke Zero. And yes, Coke Blak is being heavily marketed here, at least in NYC...

zootsi, there are many small bottlers with lots of soda varieties, such as Jones Soda and Boylan's, plus all the fruit-juice-plus-carbonation options like Fizzy Lizzy (not to be confused with my favorite Izzy). I hope you can find and get to try some!
ggreen is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 10:44 PM
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Well, the only things I really miss when I'm in Europe are toilet seat covers!
dina4 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2006, 11:14 PM
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rkkwan and ggreen:

thanks for the explanations on Coke Zero!
I did not mind the taste of Diet Coke and guess I just have one more option for having to make up my mind...
hsv is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 01:25 AM
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To nukesafe, reader and lover of the IHT (as I am) I hope what you meant by "European slant" on the news was that there was more European coverage, because IHT is published by the New York Times (and the puzzle is in fact from the Times), so most of the articles are in fact the same as appearing in that days' NYT; however there is often additional coverage on Europe (just as the Asian edition has more coverage on Asia. ). You aren't actually getting a European's view on anything, as the articles are written by New York Times' writers and stringers, and while some of them may be European, I would not say that the IHT has any particular European slant. For that you need to read the Economist, which I also very highly recommend, and you can subscribe to that in the US. Also, listen to the BBC World Service radio or bbc.com, a really good source of information with a UK slant for sure.

LLindaC there is tofu in Switzerland. It is sold in most grocery stores in both dried and fresh variety. There are also many vegetarian restaurants, including a very famous one in Zurich. In the mountain towns these may be harder to find, but even grocery stores would carry it. Not sure what you mean by "beans", (fresh green? string?) or do you mean what would be called pulses or lentils? There are lots of all of these in grocery stores, you would find some on restaurant menus.

Cicerone is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 04:31 AM
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<< Is northern Europe hotter than usual this summer, or is it just my perception? >>

Surely visitors to Boston have thought the same thing this week.

Weather varies.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 04:58 AM
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I'm an American living in Germany for 2+ years and have been here 10 months so far. It's not quite the same situation as when you're visiting and eating at restaurants and staying at hotels, but here's my two cents...

I miss...
Air conditioning (good hotels have it but homes, offices, and many stores do not!). My poor husband is dying at work every day even after loading up on summer-weight pants and shirts. And I can't recall every getting sweaty at a grocery store in the States. Yes, everyone says the last couple weeks have been extremely hot for southern Germany. We've also had unbelievable thunder storms - like nothing I've ever seen even after spending a summer in Costa Rica.

Mexican food - as in good 'ol Americanized beans, tortillas, cheese, guacamole, and salsa. Monterey Jack does not exist here, but I can sometimes find Irish cheddar. I can get rubbery flour tortillas at the supermarket but no corn tortillas. They have funny avocados but I can manage a decent guacamole. But it is really hard to find cilantro!!!

Ice - I hear that Europeans think that drinking extra-cold drinks is unhealthy but no one can really explain why. Of course they also smoke like chimneys, so go figure. Fortunately I finally found a real ice cube tray and can get my iced tea fix at home. I served some old fashioned sun tea to my German teacher (cold but with no ice) during our heat wave and she was amazed. I learned the word for "refreshing" that day.

Tap water - likewise, Europeans think it is unhealthy and drink bottled water. We were able to buy a Brita water filter pitcher and we happily drink tap water at home.

Normal, soft, two-ply toilet paper. I can get "Charmin" but after going home to the States for 2 weeks last month I realized it just isn't the same! On a related note, I miss Kleenex in pretty boxes that you can match to your decor. You can get Kleenex in little pocket packs but I have yet to see it in actual boxes.

Certain cuts of beef and other meat - apparently they have no equivalent for flank steak here, and the chicken legs come with a piece of the back attached.

Buying milk, juice, drinks etc. in containers larger than half a liter. There's just 2 of us...I can only imagine if you are a family of 4 how many little containers of milk you go through every week.

My own backyard.

Being able to understand what people are saying around me. Eventually you tune it out. Now that I'm getting better at German I can pick up a word or two here and there and that is even more frustrating!

I don't miss...
Billboards, oversized roads and houses and cars, urban sprawl, excessive use of disposable products, American TV (except for the Home & Garden channel), chain restaurants and fast food (OK, I haven't had a Whopper in 10 months and I might like to have one when I get back, but I REFUSE to go to an American fast food restaurant while I am here!).

OK, that was fun. Actually, I absolutely love it here. Now I must go back to enjoying my life as a hausfrau!

hausfrau is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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<<But it is really hard to find cilantro!!!>>

I've never had a problem finding it in Kaufhof, Metro or any Asian store with a temperature controlled cold room.

I'm assuming you know its called Koriander in Germany, even an English speaking German would be unlikely to know what Cilantro is, as in England it is also called Coriander.

Geordie is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 05:42 AM
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Yup, I know it is Koriander, and I know I should be able to get it in a specialty shop or at the Markthalle - just tough to make the excuse for a special trip for one little herb!

I do like the fact that so many herbs are sold here as live plants, so you don't use a tablespoon and throw out the rest...
hausfrau is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 05:49 AM
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Hausfrau, I have to agree with you, when we lived in a small town in the Ruhr Valley a few years ago, coriander was the one thing we could not find without a lot of sleuthing...as compared to Brussels and its burbs where virtually every decent sized grocery store carried it. It was easier to find Oreos than coriander! (we didn't care about the former but craved the latter)
BTilke is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 06:44 AM
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hausfrau, I am right there with you!

Where are you from? It sounds like you grew up down the street from me--missing the Mexican food and the tea makes me think maybe you're a Texan? (Perhaps that's just because I'd like a kindred spirit! haha)

My search for decent tortillas continues, but I know people who just bought their own tortilla press when they went home because it was so much easier!

Funny, though, even though it is only in the 70's here and hovering over 100 at home (Dallas), I have been fantasizing about my own backyard and house for weeks.

That said, I, too, LOVE living here in Prague. It is fabulous. (and we got Hagen Daas recently, so my pregnancy ice cream fix is taken care of in a big way!!!)

Cheers, MP
MacPrague is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 06:56 AM
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also, hausfrau, my husband's colleagues have told him that drinking something cold when you eat something hot 1)interferes with your digestion and 2) makes your teeth break!

Anyone who could shed some light here would be greatly appreciated! --MP
MacPrague is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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I have lived in Maine, Virginia, California (14 years), and most recently Michigan. I consider myself primarily a Californian. I have never been to Texas but Mexican food and iced tea are two of my favorite things in the world, so I think we'd get along. The tortilla press is a good idea (darn, should have thought of that since we just got back from the States!).

I'm glad my teeth haven't broken yet and I will continue to take the risk - even of indigestion.

I am of Czech ancestry so will definitely be making it over to your neck of the woods in the next year!

hausfrau is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 07:22 AM
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Kerouac; Coca Cola Blak is widely available in the U.S., even in very small towns such as ours. We're not quite as provincial as you seem to think: "And when you think of it, so many American things are watered down, not just the drinks."
kswl is offline  

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