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! 😉

10 Things You Don’t Know About Me

You may recall (and if you don’t, you have a very short memory), that I have been honored with the Kreativ Blogger Award, thanks to my blogger pal, Isabelle and her blog, As the Actress said to the Bishop.

I’ve already fulfilled the first rule, passing the award on to 10 very cool blogs that are definitely worth reading (See London Actress Picks Me!). So now, it’s on to Rule #2.  A little drumroll, please…

Guam, the little island with the friendliest people.

Here are 10 things I’ve yet to reveal about myself:

1. My favorite color is purple. No, orange. Ok, purple it is.

2. My mother had meningitis while pregnant with me and we almost didn’t make it. Luckily, one of her sisters nursed her back to health, and thus I was born.

3. I once spent a whirlwind week in Guam. Met the governor, was interviewed on the radio and featured in a TV spot. I also made the front page of the local newspaper. Capped off the week by enjoying a typical Chamorro barbecue and sampling the island specialty–Spam. Yum!

4. When I was a kid, my uncle gave my family a dog. Jeffrey lasted with us for two whole weeks. Never having owned a pet, we didn’t know what to do with the poor thing. And so, we gave him back. I still miss him.

5. I just finished listening to my first audio book ever, Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants. It was incredibly engrossing, all 32 hours of it.  I listened while walking my dog and wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to concentrate, but now I’m hooked on audio books. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson is next.

The Mister Softee truck brings back fond memories from my childhood.

6. I’m not a big fan of ice cream. If I buy a pint, it can stay in the freezer for six months to a year. Yet I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Mister Softee and Good Humor Ice Cream trucks of my youth, and the jingles and bells they’d play through the streets of Queens, signaling to us kids that their cold treats were just around the bend.

7. I like to drive fast and have little (none, really) patience for those who don’t. It drives me crazy. No pun intended.

8. For me, it’s Diet Coke all the way. So much so that a couple of years ago, I found myself in Atlanta for a conference and made the trip to Mecca. Which, for me meant visiting the  World of Coca-Cola museum. The two-hour indoctrination included an animated film homage to the soft drink–inside the Happiness Factory Theater–a guided tour through the history and art inspired by Coca-Cola, and an all-you-can-drink sampling of beverages from around the world. My favorite: Pineapple Fanta.  And all this while being surrounded by fellow Coca-Cola die-hard enthusiasts. Only thing missing: Support groups to help us navigate in a world that often favors Pepsi.

9. When I was in sixth grade, my teacher discovered I had an adequate singing voice and recruited me to join the glee club.  As a result, I had dreams of grandeur and making it big on Broadway.  We all know how that turned out.

10. I spent eight years living in Seattle and I totally loved the overcast, rainy weather as well as the long summer days.  Which is why I settled in San Diego. Makes no sense, but who cares? I’m happy!

So thank you, thank you.  I promise I won’t let the Kreativ Blogger award go to my head.