This week I shall be writing from Salzburg, where I have come for a three-day conference.
Getting from Beirut to Salzburg is much like getting from, say, Des Moines to Albany. There are no direct flights. Hence my travels this morning began with the 3:25 am Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt.
We arrived to Frankfurt at 6:25, leaving just over an hour and a half until the Salzburg flight. Naturally, I was desperate for tea. While G caught up on the night’s sms traffic, I scouted out the nearby Haagen-Dazs.
Full line of coffee drinks? yes.
“Assorted teas” offered? yes.
Excellent, I thought. I can’t wait for a cup of tea.
As an Iowan, I should know better than to count my beverage chickens before they’ve been hatched.
My conversation with the barista went as follows:
me: I’d like a regular coffee, an Americano, with milk [for G, who tolerates but does not share my tea habit].
HDb: I’m sorry. We do not serve coffee with milk. The Americano is only available black.
me: What? It doesn’t need to be steamed – just an Americano with milk.
HDb: I’m sorry, it does not come that way. The American coffee only comes black. If you want a coffee with milk, you must order a caffe latte.
I was torn between the desire to point out to her that as an American of many years’ standing I could guarantee that American coffees were indeed drunk with milk, and my desire to get the drinks ordered and move on.
Fine, I said. I would like a caffe latte. I would also like an English breakfast tea, with milk.
HDb: I’m sorry. We do not serve tea with milk.
HDb: You can have tea, or you can have milk. We do not serve tea with milk.
me: But I’m ordering an English breakfast tea. The English always drink their tea with milk.
HDb: I’m sorry, but if you want milk it is a separate drink, for 3,30 Euros.
me: [fuming silently and thinking: what is it with the Germans and dairy products?] No, thank you.
It is now 10 pm in Salzburg, and I have recently finished the day’s first and only cup of tea. This may be a long week … !