Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Milk Money

First, welcome my mom (and I'm sure my dad, too) to the blog. I have never told anyone at home that I have this, but a few internet savvy people have found it anyway. I guess it's time to come clean to the folks back in VA and admit I'm a blogger:

Hi, my name is Isabel and I have a blog.


I'm in Starbucks right now. I'm in A Starbucks at least 4 times a week. I sit and use the free internet and drink an OK coffee of the day. I have almost always ordered the coffee of the day because it's quick and it's cheap. They fill it up while I'm paying and I get out of Starbucks within minutes.

This is not the case in Chile. Because I ask for a coffee with "one finger of milk" (this is our system so that I don't get a cortado, or half coffee/half milk because my "poquito" is not the same as other peoples' "poquito"), the coffee must go down the line to the espresso bar. Always. Without fail. Inevitably, I wait along with everyone else to get my coffee with milk. This is because there is no milk on the counter with the sugar and the napkins. Once, I went to a Santiago Starbucks and there was milk on the counter, but I haven't seen it since then. I have wondered why they don't put the milk out here and have come up with two possibilities:

1. The milk isn't hot if it's out on the counter. Many Chileans I know love hot milk. They drink it at breakfast and they buy a cortado mostly for the heated milk. When your coffee goes through the espresso line, you get warm to hot milk and sometimes even foam (I love those days) in your coffee. It sorta makes sense that the milk isn't out on the counter if people are going to be asking the employees to heat it up anyway.

2. People will use the free milk too liberally
. Again because many Chileans love their milk, maybe Starbucks is worried some will help themselves to glassfulls of it once they've finished their coffee. I'm pretty positive this is at least part of the reason, but you never know. It's just funny to think about because it would never occur to me to refill my cup with milk, but it has always occurred to me to refill my soda at Taco Bell even if you're not supposed to.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The kitchen/bedroom??

It's been a lazy saturday evening after a crazy busy week and I'm topping it all off with a big glass of wine in bed while I stream Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episodes. I pretty much always watch Anthony Bourdain and drink wine frequently, but I just started to think about how much of the wine I drink in Chile is drunk in bed.

Eating/drinking in bed is one Chilean (or maybe just the Chileans I know?) habit I've adopted. I kinda hate it/kinda love it. Italo and I often eat breakfast in bed on Sunday mornings and since we both work late, we also end up crashing in bed when we get home at night and because I require a glass of red wine after a long day, I end up drinking it in bed because I'm so tired. This may seem symptomatic of alcoholism to some, but I see it as my adaptation of a pretty universal Chilean custom: eating in bed.

I was never, EVER allowed to do this growing up and I had no problem with it. Eating in bed just doesn't feel right. I hate crumbs in the bed and since I'm a messy person, they're inevitable. But when I first got here, my host family would always encourage my breakfast and me to get a room. In fact, we all went our separate ways in the morning to "enjoy" our crappy nescafe "en cama" and then I just sort of picked up the practice and never looked back.

Now, I rarely have time to eat breakfast and I almost never eat lunch at my apartment during the work week, so I've taken to eating my dinner or at least taking my wine to bed with me. Since I'm messy, this also means that halfway through the next day, you're almost sure to find an empty (SOMETIMES half-empty, but not often) wine glass on my nightstand. Some people have a glass of water next to them. Others just a bedside lamp and a magazine. But me? No. No. I have the remnants of my nightcap.

I don't think many other people drink wine in bed, but plenty of Chileans drink tea and eat bread inbed. I still hate that I do this because the thought of crumbs in my sheets drives me crazy, but I haven't been able to fight it, either.There's something so decadently wrong about making your bed your kitchen table, too.It's also completely understandable sometimes. Especially during the winter months where the only semi-warm place is under the covers, it's hard to argue against it.

I've resolved to kick this nasty habit once I have heat and manage to get the tv out of the bedroom and into the tv room where it belongs (another Chilean habit I cannot shake), but in the mean time, salud and goodnight!