When it comes to what I drink I can get finicky. When I first came to Switzerland a glass of ice cold Coca Cola was my favorite drink, unfortunately that wasn’t the way drinks were served here. Coke was served at room temperature with a slice of lemon in it. Gag! I was weaned off Coke in no time. Which has turned into a blessing in disguise – I greatly reduced my sugar intake without even trying! Thank you Switzerland for making Coke ghastly!
Coffee, Tea or Me?
I am not and never have been a coffee drinker. The Swiss love their coffee. Those who have been to America, tend to make light fun of the “American brown water”. Just the thought of a pot of American coffee sitting on a backburner makes them shudder. They believe that Swiss coffee is decent, but know the best comes from Italy.
Before we were married, Ben and I visited all of his relatives. It’s a sign of hospitality when visiting someone that they offer coffee and cookies. The first time I declined coffee the hostess was not happy. I thought I must learn to drink this stuff, so I caved in and accepted. The results weren’t the best.
First I put in a lot of sugar to hopefully hide the coffee taste. No luck. The next time I was offered coffee I added milk almost to the point of overflow, also a letdown. On another occasion I tried combining the two and I even tried plain black which was a total fiasco. The only thing that could even remotely make coffee drinkable would be whiskey. Strange, but for some reason that was never offered! Every time after Ben finished his coffee, he and I would as inconspicuously as possible switch cups. Although he drinks his coffee black he would then drink whatever concoction I had mixed.
At some point I realized that I was destined to be a non-coffee drinker and started looking for alternatives. The best I came up with was tea and have stuck with that ever since. It makes your host or hostess happy that they can scuttle off and get you something. It makes me happy that I can drink it. Of course, Ben’s happy that he can drink his coffee black, too. Smiles all around.
The next hurdle was the mineral water. I grew up drinking tap water so this was a relatively new concept for me. I asked Ben once why the Swiss didn’t just drink tap water, wasn’t it good enough? He said no, no, the water is good enough for animals but mineral water is for people.
Mineral water comes in two varieties: carbonated (bubbles) and noncarbonated. I got to the point that I could drink the bubbled mineral water. The Swiss, when speaking English tend call carbonated water “water with gas”. Sorry guys, that conjures up a completely wrong picture in my mind. Nonetheless I realized that I prefer my water “without”, “silent” or “still” which is the noncarbonated version. So that is what I order at restaurants now “Mineral water, without”.
It’s no surprise that Coke is the number one soft drink sold in Switzerland. Although I no longer drink it I believe they serve it cooled now. In restaurants it is still served with a slice of lemon but no ice. Maybe it is served with ice at McDonalds, I don’t know, but is McDonalds a restaurant?
What is surprising is that the number two drink is a Swiss specialty called “Rivella”. It comes in 7 different “colors” although they all look the same; a light, transparent golden color. In a restaurant you would ask for a “Rivella Red”, “Rivella Green” (with green tea extract) or “Rivella Blue” (light). I almost drank one once but I made the mistake of asking what was in it. A friend said “goat milk”. Really? Yep. That was as close as I came. End of discussion. I know now it is 35% milk whey but I must admit that knowing that makes it no more attractive to me to drink. If push comes to shove I would take a root beer any day over a Rivella. Although Ben likens drinking root beer to drinking Johnson’s wax. Personally I wouldn’t know, I’ve never tried Johnson’s wax.
Addendum. After I read Ben this post he went out and bought a bottle of Rivella Red. He said I had to try it, if only just a sip. I couldn’t just write about Rivella and not try it. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. So I tried it. Okay, where’s the root beer?
Once when we were in Germany on vacation we visited a distillery in Rüdisheim. They make a very good cognac called “Asbach Uralt” there. A couple of years later when I was in Germany with friends, we ordered after dinner drinks. Remembering how good that cognac was, I ordered an Asbach Uralt. The waiter cocked his head slightly, so I repeated the order.
When he returned with all the orders and put mine in front of me I thought this looks so wrong. Wrong color, wrong smell, just wrong. Then it was my turn to cock my head, furrow my eyebrows and ask what that was in front of me. He said “What you ordered, “Asbach-Cola”.
He and the other waiters must have had a fit laughing over the silly foreigners and the things they order. Although I don’t necessarily have an American accent when I speak Swiss I imagine I do when I speak German. I just don’t speak it that often. I assume that he heard my American accent and thought “I bet she’ll want a Coke – like all Americans”. Consequently he didn’t really listen to what I said and heard “Cola” instead of “Uralt”.
We got the order straightened out but somehow I had gone full circle and had ended up with an undrinkable Cola.