Sunday, April 6, 2008

Water Words

Look, another picture of my boring sketchbook in my lap. I wanted to take some water pictures, but the light isn't cooperating and i'm too lazy to make much of an effort.

Anyways, the water theme seems immense to me. What I usually do when I have absolutely no idea where to start is to just write down words, stream-of-conscious-like and see where it takes me. So far, a lot of my associations seem to be in the direction of water's power: it's destructive power, it's restorative power, it's power over life, it's potential to make literal power, the power those who control it have. That's still a huge range of possibilities!

On a more personal level, there's the Still vs Bubbly water issue that plagues Americans in Europe. In America, bottled mineral water, bubbly or not, is the realm of the affluent and affected. "Normal" people drink tap water, or Culligan. In Europe, everyone drinks mineral water, and it's usually bubbly. Instead of a Big Gulp, or something Venti, or the ubiquitous sport bottle, people here carry a bottle of mineral water to their job each day. And why not? It costs less than 10€ for a crate of 16 liter-sized bottles inclusive of the deposit that will be refunded with the empties. So when you go to a restaurant and order a water (you are not automatically given a glass of tap water with ice), you are likely to get a bottle of the local bubbly. One of the first things Americans have to learn upon arriving in Germany is not only how to communicate that they want "still" water, but that they'd prefer tap water as the mineral water tastes, well, mineral-y. This confounds the Germans because they've been taught that mineral water is very healthy, and well, the bubbly version is quite refreshing and they can't quite understand why someone would want plain old tap water.

A great way to embrace the bubbly water though, is to do as the Germans often do instead of drinking soda -- mix bubbly mineral water with fruit juice. "Apfelschörle" is practically the national drink (after beer and wine of course). Half mineral water and half pure apple juice, it's refreshing and not too sweet. If you like tangier drinks, try "Johanisbeersaftschörle," which beside gaining you points for being able to pronounce it, is a delicious mix of water and black currant juice.

So, will I choose "power" or "still vs. bubbly" or do something completely different? I have no idea. I'm still drowning in the possibilities.


Gerrie said...

I love mineral water and buy it by the case, ususally from Germany. I discovered this love when I traveled to Europe. If you come to my house, you have to let me know if you prefer still or tap water!! I was thinking of this as an idea for the next piece.

Brenda said...

I enjoy drinking sparkling mineral water but have serious concerns about the bottled water industry including its impact on aquifers in the region where I live. I haven't bought any bottled water this calendar year. We keep a jug of chilled tap water in the fridge and that works just fine...

Kristin L said...

Good point Brenda -- in your arid region, water is tied to many issues not necessarily applicable in my part of Europe. Growing up in LA, California, water conservation was a big deal too. A lot of the bottled water came from Lake Arrowhead which is now, due to a variety of factors, frighteningly low. Conversely, the water here in Germany seems to be distributed relatively locally and if it's an area without a good spring, then it doesn't bottle it.

My main point though is the cultural differences behind drinking bottled water -- in the US its often status, and in Germany it's habit. Then there's the comedy of non-german speakers trying to order tap water from baffled locals. (Yes, it took me a while to "adapt" and not only develop a taste for sparkling mineral water, but also to gain the proper lingual skills.)

Anonymous said...

I can remember an American once saying to me, "I can drink it, but do you ever get to where it actually quenches thirst?" I did, and often prefer it now to tap water, though I usually choose the medium version with less sparkle. Apfelschorle is a wonderful thirst quencher, even better with less juice and more water.

As always, your theme has me thinking without actually planning to do something with my thoughts. Currently, those revolve around the various forms of water - gas, liquid, solid.

Heidi ST (For some reason, this box won't let me comment with name/URL.)

Françoise said...

Actually, I drink tap water most of the time. But maybe that's because in another life I used to live in the States.