The Iceman Cometh–Not

I’ve been to Europe twice, and each time I couldn’t help but notice one thing. Just one itty-bitty thing that almost isn’t worth mentioning.

Except, that it is.

You could say it’s the one thing that separates the wheat from the chaff. The ones who teach from the ones who just do.

Okay, maybe I’m not making any sense, but then this little thing has got me all riled up, my underwear in knots, and my head in a raving tizzy. Here’s what I’m talking about:

It strikes me that no one consumes ice as well as we, ahem, Americans. We love our drinks with ice, preferably in a cup brimming with the shiny cubes of frozen water. So tantalizing! So delightful!

So much ice, that only a splash of the liquid du jour need be added. Why, if you ask me, there’s nothing more refreshing on a warm, balmy day, than an ice-cold beverage. Did I mention that one of the key elements of such a drink is the ice?

Indeed, why else would Coca Cola, or Pepsi, for that matter, advertise their products in glasses filled with glistening, sparkling ice cubes in tall glasses that are beaded with droplets of moisture, thanks to all that ice?

Why? Because it’s supposed to be served cold! That’s why! In fact, I’ve never heard these cola companies pushing their product as one that is best “Served Luke Warm.” Have you?

Ice cold, is more like it, something that can only be achieved with, dare I say it? Plenty of ice.  In other words, no skimping, please!

Yet, somewhere between the American coastline and the continent of Europe, a change happens. One that throws all ice out the window and doesn’t give it a second thought. In that part of the world, serving a drink slightly chilled—with no ice at all—is perfectly acceptable. It’s downright normal!

I was reminded of the difference between our cultures when I boarded my first flight. Destination: London. I asked for sparkling water, as opposed to, still (flat or mineral) water, which is another term I had to learn). The flight attendant served it to me with nary a trace of ice. Zippo. Zilch. Nada.

I then asked for ice. This is what I got:

Where’s my ice??

Can you see it? No? Well, trust me. It’s there. One solitary, ice cube. Floating by its lonesome in a vast sea of sparkling water. Somehow, outside the US, this is deemed sufficient. One cube, which, by itself, with no little cube-ette friends to help keep it cold, is sure to melt by the time I finish writing this sentence. Yep. It’s gone.

This ice-slight cuts to the very heart of what Americans are all about. In our “land of plenty,” we are drinkers, who love our cold drinks served with ice. The more, the merrier! Many of us live in areas that in the summer are either stinking hot and humid, or miserably hot and arid. Take your pick!  So, bottom line is we have to have our ice. Pile it on, please! Now, here are a couple of drinks after my own heart:

If you ask me, ice makes any drink refreshing.

Yes, ice means the world to me, and nothing less than 9-12 ice cubes will do. In fact, it’s a tall order to expect one ice cube to keep an entire drink cold for more than a minute.

Ice is in our DNA. Overall, the United States is a nation of ice enthusiasts! Which is why, it’s a sad state of affairs when an American abroad must drink a tepid, ice cube-less beverage.  Everywhere I went, no matter how casual or formal the dining, it was the same: drinks served without ice. Once, in Salzburg, a waiter, when asked, did bring me a small cup filled with ice. I was delirious with joy. But, overall, my drinks looked like this:

Who took my ice?

Note to self: must find way to bring my own stash of ice when traveling abroad. I wonder if they make a portable, battery-powered ice-makers? Anyone?

So, how do you like your beverages served? Are you a “with” or “without” imbiber?

SIDE NOTE:  In other news, this week marks the beginning of my third year of blogging.  Yay!! Frankly, I wouldn’t have even noticed this, if not for my blogger pal, Jayne, who recently posted in her status update that she is celebrating her third anniversary of blogging.

Congratulations, Jayne, and thanks for inadvertently reminding this cobweb-addled brain of its own milestone. Turns out, I’m exactly one year behind you, but with any luck and pluck, I’ll be gaining in on you in no time! 😉

40 thoughts on “The Iceman Cometh–Not

  1. Ooo, My Goshhhhhhhhhh,
    I know. The first time I went to England, I’m like “WHERE THE HELL IS MY ICE?” And all the Brits looked at me and said, “Why do you need ice?”
    “Are you serious? How shall I survive here?” I cried.


    • Kim, what a relief! You know what I’m talking about. Overall, from the responses I’m getting, I was starting to think I’m a rare bird, liking my ice plentiful. Glad to hear that you can commiserate, my friend. Thank you, so much!! 🙂

  2. When I first moved to London the no ice thing drove me batty, but after the first week I realized I had bigger fish to fry and mountains to climb. There was the issue of central heating, which wasn’t. Radiators! I lived in a two story Victorian, including an outside water closet and chain flushing commode across from the Larder ( old time fridge). Do you know showers are not standard issue in the older house. In my Victorian we only had a bathtub. We never got around to putting in a shower. Funny the things you get used to.

    Congrats on your three year. How many words to you think you have written? Friends, you’ve made a few, yes. Before the virtual space, we’d not have met. Of course, this isn’t the same as sitting down sharing a bottle of wine. Bella – if you’re out there, thanks for the introduction.

    • Hi Brenda! Oh my goodness, I’m not sure how I would do if I moved to Europe and had to deal with all the issues you had. Which makes me think, we, Americans, must be pretty high maintenance. We like our toilets inside the home, preferably in a bathroom, and we love our showers. Plus, I for one enjoy air conditioning every now and then. 😉

      Thanks for the felicitations, but I’ve only been doing this for two years (it was Jayne celebrating three). Just give me 12 months, and I’ll be making a toast to my three years in no time! You’re right about the blogosphere. I’m glad for the opportunity it has given me to meet wonderful bloggers like you. Yes, I’m grateful to Bella for bringing us together!

  3. Happy Blogging Anniversary! I remember traveling from my home town Detroit to Basel Switzerland on Lufthansa, when I asked for a drink – they asked me if I wanted ice and I said no – the German fly attended was like: you must be European, but what are you doing here? … Needless to say I was not happy with her respond.

    • Thanks, Ariana! Wow. What a thing for the flight attendant to say! During my trip, I found that on those rare occasions that someone asked me if I wanted ice, they usually meant just one or two ice cubes, which is no where near enough. Yikes.

  4. Happy anniversary Monica, I’m almost at the 2 year mark. I wish you many happy years of blogging. Hmmm, the ice or no ice is difficult for me. I noticed in Europe, you actually have to ask for ice, on the other hand we don’t like a lot of ice, so our water/drinks were at the perfect temperature. Well, um, it wasn’t very hot either. Sometimes my husband and I have to say no-ice in the US, because they load up the ice and give us less of the drink – ahem! Starbucks, do you hear me? When we go tropical however, we never ask for ice because we’re not sure how good the water is and only drink with ice if it’s a friend’s house etc. I think we’re good with either, right in the middle, I would say.

    P.S. sorry you got that weird Chrome post, I was trying to add a feature and it published instead.

    • Thanks, MM. So many of us seem to be relatively new at blogging. I guess part of the reason is that blogging is still new. I do know what you mean, how some restaurants–and movie theaters–can get carried away with ice, but I just figure it’s one of life’s annoyances. Oh, well!

      What Chrome post are you talking about? Not sure I got it.

  5. I would hate it if my person didn’t use ice because I wouldn’t get to crunch the cubes that fall on the floor. Looks like I’m exactly one year behind you in blogging. My first blogiversary will be this week. Congratulations on your second.

  6. Gosh, you’re right about the ice thing. Love what you say about it being in the American DNA. Surely its in the constitution somewhere, as well! And if not, we damn well need to add it! However, I have admit that ice was even harder to come by in Haiti and Vietnam than in Europe. In Vietnam, however, they do ice their beer. Yes, you read that right. They put ice in their Corona.

    • Ice is in the Bill of Rights! I just know it. In fact, I’m heading over to Wikipedia to add it to the info on the Bill of RIghts, because we all know, if Wikipedia says it’s true, it is!

      Thanks for adding your perspective the ice dilemma in Haiti and Vietnam. The plot thickens! 😉

  7. I don’t like ‘over-iced’ drinks. And, possibly a holdover from my early years of travel is a ‘don’t-drink-the-water’ mentality, which would make me reluctant to even ask for ice cubes. Never thought of it in cultural terms . . . . until now. And now I’ll go fill a glass with something ice-worthy to celebrate your blogging ‘anniversary’

    • Actually, Deborah, while I was in Austria and Prague, I drank tap water and it was very good. Room temperature and all!

      Thanks for the well wishes. I’m sorry I’m going to miss your “tour” of the west coast. Rain check, please!

  8. I had a hard time getting used to beer and ale that was not exactly “ice cold” but you know what? I did – far too often 😦
    Happy Blogiversary!

    • Thanks, Astra! I suppose, when beer or ale is more room temperature, it’s easier to really savor the flavor. Ice does have a tendency to numb it. But then, that’s my two cents!

  9. Congratulations on three years of blogging. Hope you celebrate with an ice filled drink! I absolutely share your ice fetish.
    Ahem…..Fetish – a course of action to which one has an excessive or irrational commitment.

    • Thanks, Barb, but know that it’s actually two years of blogging. Feels like three, though. And, I am celebrating with lots of ice–forget the drink! I’m all about the ice! 🙂

  10. I don’t know. Really cold drinks is bad for the body that then has to warm them up. They are bad for digestion. I am sorry Monica. I love you. I love your blog. You are awesome!!!! But I have to side with Europe on this. It is just American. We don’t take care of ourselves here. 😦 🙂

    I am only one year old. Sort of, since I really started trying. Maybe I should make a huge deal of my one year anniversary. What if it past?

    • Jodi, I know you’re right. But, yikes, ice is a weakness. So, you’re on Team Europe. Well, good for you, but will you pass me the ice bucket before you abandon Team USA? 😉

      Also, it doesn’t matter if your one-year anniversary passed. It’s never too late to celebrate it. Look at Disneyland or Disney World. They take an entire year to celebrate their anniversary!

  11. Thanks for the shout-out, Monica and congratulations on your own milestone! I’d never heard of this no-ice business before. Does it just not exist? How completely weird.

    • You’re welcome, Jayne. And congrats to you, too! Just goes to show you, we sure have lots of perseverance! I’m disappointed, btw, that I can’t make it to the Sta Barbara gathering. Hope the next one’s planned in San Diego!

      And, yes, the ice dilemma exists. It’s a cultural thing!

  12. Congratulations on your blogiversary!!

    I have to admit I am a “NO” ice please kind of gal. I even go as far as to tell them at the McDonalds drive thru “diet coke with no ice” I do like my drinks chilled though. Perhaps I am living in the wrong country 😉

  13. I often get too much ice in my glass in American restaurants and I get those cold headaches at the bridge of my nose. Ugh! When it’s really hot, I’ll put a few cubes in my drinks, but otherwise I usually don’t bother with it.

    One thing I do love about most American restaurants is the prompt refilling of the water glass. That doesn’t seem to happen as much in Europe.

    • Everyone has a preference, don’t they. I’m just saying. Seems to me, it’s in our culture to serve drinks with lots of ice–but there’s probably a premeditated reason for that (vendors want to give us less of the beverage, and more “filler,” ahem, ice. Well, guess they got me hooked with their wonton habits. 😉

  14. Congratulations on your anniversary. I’m pretty casual about ice. Most of the time I can take it or leave it. But every once in awhile (usually a hot while) I go on a binge. When it’s ice you want, there is no substitute!

  15. I am actually not huge on ice. I drink water without ice, unless at a restaurant (in America, of course!) where they automatically serve ice water. I don’t drink soda or ice tea. Water and coffee are pretty much it for me. However, I can’t imagine being served either one of those without ice.

    • Michael Ann, I drink water without ice, too. I’ve gotten quite used to it, which makes things convenient when traveling because not all hotels have fridges to keep water bottles cool. But sodas, lemonades and even Margaritas are best served with ice!

  16. I love this.

    I am so addicted to ice it’s not funny. No icee, no drinkee. The other day, I thought my ice maker died on me, which is reason enough to call Sears and tell them to deliver a new fridge *immediately*. Or Lowes. Whichever can get here first.

    I am forewarned if I travel in that direction 8)!

  17. Interesting post Monica as it shows one of the differences between each side of the pond.

    If you go into a McDonalds over here which I almost never do you will get a soft drink brimming with ice. But of course they are an American Company. Most other places will add a couple of cubes if asked.

    When I have diet Coke or Pepsi Max then I like it chilled but not with ice. At the railway we have a 6ft high chiller for bottled drinks and on a hot day take one out and beads of moisture form on the plastic bottle. A couple of years ago I was told by an American visitor who worked for Coke that it showed it was the ideal temperature for drinking straight from the container if the beads of moisture formed. He commented that I was the first place where he had bought a bottle and it was the correct temperature, I think looking back it may have made his day!!

    Not being a drinker of alcohol in any way then I have no experience of ice in those drinks, though I suspect as alcohol has by law here to be served in specific measured amounts that ice would always be added after rather than the drink poured over the ice.

    Your comment on length of time blogging prompted me to have a look at when I started and I find that my blog will be three years old in December. I am undecided as to whether I will celebrate or not!!!

    • Not all McDonalds are like the one near you, Robert. I happened into one in Vienna, to purchase a Diet Coke. I was given a cup that was 90% full, with not a drop of ice. I then asked for some and they happily gave me two cubes. Not enough in my estimation, but I made do. 😉

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