With people musing about boycotting products from countries that have a different opinion on invading Iraq than their own, the question to arise naturally is whether this would be feasible for yourself. Surely I could to without any McDonalds, Coca-Cola or Marlboro – in fact, boycotting those companies would only require me to change my life a handful of times a year.
Also, I've always made a point of not going to Starbucks for coffee: While the company may even have improved or introduced coffee consumption in the U.S., their concept simply doesn't belong to Europe. We already have proper coffee over here and corporate blandness won't ever be as nice as a cosy little café. Oh, and having a 'double-latte-vanilla-marshmallow-low-fat-decaf-frappucino' or even offering to sell it is simply wrong. (And I am myself a coffee bastard, considering that I sometimes have non-espresso coffee, acqua sale, as the Italians say, or coffee with milk after breakfast...)
The little American gadget I quite like, though, is my Powerbook. I hope not to need a new one for a while, anyway – but still that kind of boycott could turn out to be tricky. Looking at today's cartoon in the paper proves that I wasn't the only one to have this thought.
Even in the U.S, Starbucks is viewed as “McCoffee.” Independent sidewalk cafes aren’t something that ever really happened in the USA (the American equivalent, well, not really, is the diner, the best of which specialize in strong, basic, and most importantly inexpensive coffee.)
And the “sidewalk cafés not happening”-thing is why I think that even though Starbucks are just another chain they may have given the benefit to people in the U.S. of being able to have a coffee everywhere. They didn’t really destroy much, wheras they surely do in Europe.
That said, the standing of American coffee is quite bad in Europe. It is definitely on the watery side. Particularly the “diner”-bit you mention seems odd in that context as that should be the home of weak rather than strong coffee. But perhaps it’s just different scales we’re talking about.
A particular scene from the excellent film Out of Rosenheim, ironically known as “Baghdad Café” in the U.S., comes to my mind: Jasmin, played by Marianne Sägebrecht, a German housewife ends up in that diner in the middle of nowhere. All she has with her is her suitcase and thermos with coffee. A guy tries some of her coffee and spits it out immediately. Then he tops his cup up with water and says something along the lines of ‘Ah, that’s what I call coffee’.
The film is the first of a trilogy directed by Percy Adlon with Marianne Sägebrecht as the main actress. The second one, Rosalie goes shopping is by far better, though and one of my favourite films.
On another note, probably most I know about “diners” is from films… and thus the word “milkshake” comes to my mind way before coffee. In fact I was at some “retro-diner” places when I visited friends in California in 2000 ? and they were definitely very good at making milkshakes there.
There’s a saying here: if you want to know how good a diner’s food is, count the number of trucks in the parking lot. If the long-haul truckers won’t eat there, it’s probably pretty bad. Truckers pulling 12-18 hour shifts driving aren’t likely to put up with weak coffee. I saw Baghdad Café many years ago, but I don’t remember much, I’m afraid. The most authoritative movie / TV depiction of American coffee culture would be “Twin Peaks”, I think.
Quite a few people I know have been in a TwinPeaks craze/nostalgia recently. Perhaps I should join in - given that I can’t remember too much of whatever I saw of it years ago.
Good point about the truckers.
Yah! Twin Peaks. Pie!
I prefer the coffee culture in France (where I spend more of my time) v. the US of A. But, I must say, that my wife and I have discovered the joy of the “mocha” when traveling in France. We would never order such a thing of course: instead, she orders café au lait and I order un chocolat chaud and we mix the two. It’s great when heading out for 4 or more hours of walking.
Sounds yummy, the mocha-thing. Perfect for cold days. Sadly you don’t get proper hot chocolate in many places these days but only water-based instant stuff :(
Hm, France. Want to go there.
As for coffee culture, as long as it is nice and strong and after a meal (rather have tea for breakfast), I am happy with it. If it’s not an espresso, I’ll have some milk to go with it as well ? even though the Italians seem to scream in horror when considering the idea of having milk in your coffee after breakfast.
Many things to try out.
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