A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

“don’t be so German”: dairy issues in Frankfurt

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 13, 2007

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.

me: What?

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 … !

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Posted in Americans, food, Germany, Lebanon, time, tourism, travel, words | 2 Comments »

“happy family”

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 27, 2007

In our family, “happy family” is a code word that refers to the way in which stress can overtake even the most joyous family occasions.

In December 1996 we all gathered in Portland, Oregon for my great-grandmother’s 100th birthday. With our family, a gathering of that size involves not only a large number of people, but also a large number of opinions, most more than a bit larger-than-life.

By the time the Chinese restaurant dinner reception began, feathers had been ruffled all around, over everything from how much my great-uncle should be allowed to drink to where each guest should sit.

Adopting a technique that would serve us well for years to come, we four cousins found a table to the side, away from the direct vision of any impassioned adult in search of affirmation and/or aid (except for the great-uncle, whose stops at our table provided ample opportunity to determine that in the end, no drinks limit had been set for him).

Dishes arrived at our table one by one, as they did for all the guests. But just wait, the waitstaff would tell us as they deposited another. There is a special dish – it is coming.

We ate and ate, with no sign of the special dish but many signs of vexed mothers, aunts, grandparents, and assorted others (and a few too many long speeches).

Finally, when we were stuffed and ready for the meal to be cleared, the special dish arrived.

This is it, the waitress told us, the Happy Family.

I hope we waited til she had gone before bursting into laughter, but my memory is too vague. What I do remember is laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe – as first my father and then other family members came by to see what on earth was so funny.

Happy Family, we gasped – and they laughed too. We are a happy family, poorly timed Chinese dishes aside :-).

34 years ago today, my parents started our own happy family with a night wedding in Heidelberg Castle.

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(link stolen shamelessly from Heidelberg’s tourism website)

Last year my sister and I celebrated the occasion with a theme: “33 things that remind us of you”. The items ranged from a bottle of Piesporter (the wine they drank with my grandparents the night my parents announced their engagement) to lime salt potato chips (my mother) and Jujyfruits (my father).

My sister was in Seattle, but I was there for the occasion and arranged the “33 things” in the lower level living room:

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Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad, with love always

Posted in Americans, family, Germany, holidays, home, Iowa, parenting, time | 2 Comments »