>Coffee With Sugar Mandatory In America!

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From a book review in Der Standard, (translation mine):

“Look I am a Foreigner” – with this phrase, Fritz Morgenthaler, one of the founders of ethno-psychoanalysis, was able to get some special consideration after trying in vain for days to order coffee with milk, no sugar, in a New York restaurant. This phrase not only got him unsweetened coffee, but also brought him interesting encounters with foreigners in countless situations.

Um, where in America can you not order coffee your way? Outside of places like Starbucks, which in my opinion serves coffee-laced dessert drinks, not coffee, you get a cup of black coffee and some creamer containers, and there’s sugar on the table (or over in the self-service desk where you get napkins and stirrers too.)

I bring this up just because the snap judgements work both ways, and it’s good to see what those tourists are concluding. Of course, Morgenthaler probably isn’t saying that one only gets sweetened coffee in America, but a lot of readers will jump to this conclusion. Like the guy that told me that coffee only, only comes in styrofoam cups in America, in every restaurant, ever!
This is why some travel literature bugs me — specifically the kind that makes amusement out of how different “they” are from “us”. If I had a nickel for every person who told me that all the German trains run on time, or Austrians are all xenophobic, I’d have… well, an awful lot of nickels.

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3 Responses to >Coffee With Sugar Mandatory In America!

  1. >I love coffee & sugar i pefer taking it in the moning.

  2. Joe says:

    >Marcellina,I've been reading your blog intermittently since spending some time in Innsbruck this summer, but this is my first comment – thank you for your always interesting and and thought-provoking posts. Maybe things were different when Morgenthaler visited New York, but for the years that I lived there my experience was exactly as you describe: a cup of coffee in a restaurant generally meant a cup of black coffee with cream/milk and sugar provided separately.I've also found, though, that the term "regular coffee" has different meanings in different places. In New York (and, I suspect, in much of the U.S.) it simply means "coffee that isn't decaffinated." In my home state of Massachusetts, however, "regular coffee" is widely understood to mean coffee with cream and sugar – so if you order "regular coffee" in a diner there, you stand a good chance of getting it with cream and sugar already mixed in unless specified otherwise. This local meaning seems to be eroding somewhat over time, but I still encounter it whenever I go home to visit family.

  3. Marcellina says:

    >Thanks for writing, Joe! That is interesting about Massachusetts custom. In my home state of Pennsylvania, "regular coffee" does indeed mean the choice other than decaf. In fact I can't remember waitstaff even asking if I want cream and sugar anymore, it comes on the side whether or not. I suspect Morgenthaler was at a Starbucks-like place, where the baristas aren't trained to know what "just coffee" means.

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