Traveling through Europe has been a blast. We’ve enjoyed the culture, the people and the sights. Sometimes our favorite part of European travel? The different types of drinks of course!
In America, you have different regions that are known for their type of drink. If you’re heading to Kentucky, you know you should try some bourbon. While in Napa Valley, you have to have the famous Cabernet Sauvignon. The experience is there, but I have always felt like there is something missing. What’s the drastic change between this country and the long standing traditions of the old country.
While in Italy, we came to find that the Aperol Spritz is a large drink of choice. As we worked our way through Venice, I didn’t stop until I tried this drink that I saw sitting on everyone’s table. My thoughts after finally getting a taste? It was alright. It’s not so much the taste of the spirit, it’s largely the cultural significance around it. After work, many people need that drink to unwind. They stop at the nearest cafe with a couple of friends and order an Aperol Spritz. It’s light on alcohol, but still formulates a small buzz within your mind as it puts you at ease for the evening ahead. After you are unwound, you go out on the town and take on your drink of choice.
In Greece it felt somewhat different when we got to experience Ouzo. It’s a black licorice tasting liquor that did not appease me to say the least. Put it with an experience and it had a whole different meaning. We had our first shot of this interesting substance coming off a long day of horse back riding. The sun had just went down and we were back at the stables taking about life and the day we just had. Our Russian guide was quick to get out shots for all. Before we knew it, we were toasting life and all it had to offer. Maybe this Ouzo wasn’t as bad as I originally thought?!
Germany was interesting, we weren’t fully prepared when we watched videos of the craziness of Munich and Octoberfest. Little did we know, the people at Octoberfest, are not usually from the area. Locals like their beer large and in charge.
Need a beer to get going in the morning? Sure why not?! Frühschoppen is the term that Baverians use for their beer in the morning to get their day started. Several times while we traveled from Munich to Baden Baden, we saw locals ordering beer very early in the morning with breakfast. Were they getting inebriated until they couldn’t stand? Of course not! They enjoyed their beer and moved on for the day. Helps with metabolism right?
Similar stories of various scenarios from France, to Belgium to Prague. Europeans add alcohol to their daily life as an extra to the day, not the main course. I can’t even remember a time where we were asked our age before imbibing a pint. There was no need for it, no need to say drink responsibly, no need to say you’ve had enough. We were embedded within a culture.
The feeling is so different when you get to Europe and grab the drink of choice. You’re involving yourself in a cultural experience that people sometimes forget. Not to get hammered and forget what happened the night before. It’s a respect between alcohol and life. The same as respecting and taking the time to enjoy the meal in front of you.
There are long standing traditions within each country that you can learn about. The Hofbrauhaus in Munich, was actually the site of the first meeting of the National Socialist party with Adolf Hitler at the helm. Belgian monks have been making Trappist style beer right out of their Abbeys since the middle ages. Greeks have history dating back 6,500 years to Greek Mythology and the god of wine Dionysus.
It brings me to a point, why do Americans feel the need to overindulge? Is it the scenario of someone telling you it’s bad as a kid because we have a legal drinking age? Do we feel the need that once we are in public and we are of age, we can finally say look at me now and screw you to the social injustice?!
We can drink many different types of alcoholic beverages from around the world in the United States, but it still feels different. We can’t get past the feeling that we are almost doing something wrong as we reach for a sip. Is that “drink responsibly” commercial playing in your head as you tilt your glass? Why isn’t there a “eat responsibly” commercial out there? Don’t we have more issues with obesity in this country? Yes, there might be those celebrations in life that you do have a few too many, but in most cases a couple of glasses of wine keep the heart beating strong right?
A Votre Sante, Salud, Yamas or Prost are all forms of toasting in their country of origin. What do they mean? Drink to your health.