One thing that has struck me this trip is how passionate the Americans are about trying to get enough water into you. So far every restaurant we have visited has given us a glass or bottle of tap water with our meal. (Ok I say every restaurant, McDonalds and Nando’s haven’t quite gone that far, but Nando’s do have an incredible range of diet/caffeine free drinks compared to their UK counterparts.)
On our first night here, we found a restaurant to eat in, ordered our drinks and as we were perusing the menu a man appeared with 2 glasses of water, and kept appearing every few minutes. I reckon I drank about 2 pints of water and one 330ml bottle of beer that night (admittedly it cost me $8, so I was savouring every last drop). A few nights later in a different restaurant a very earnest waitress asked us if we would like “a glass of water while we studied the menu to decide what drinks we wanted”. A sort of pre drink drink. (There should be a name for that. “An avant apreritife”. Nah, French is old hat. It would be a a “pre dd” spelt “pree-dee-dee”. That’s it. In emojis it would be a ⬅️?).
Today we had breakfast in a diner near our metro station in Chicago. It was very blue collar traditional American breakfast fayre (protein, carbohydrate and sugar all on the same plate) and even then we were presented with two glasses of water with the menus. I have a friend who has been a restaurant manager at various higher end restaurants in the UK and we have had many a conversation over a whisky as to the merits and otherwise of making people pay for water; he thinks customers should, I think they shouldn’t. He would not be happy here.
But I can see his point; last night we went to a bar for a meal. The bar had its own brewery out the back, a sort of microbrewery. (What is it with microbreweries? Isn’t it basically home brew? Burscough has one; Southport has one; even Formby has one. I think Ormskirk should have one. When I get home I’m going to set one up. I found some buckets when I was clearing up the garden the other week. It’s all about the marketing anyway. I think there is a definite market for “Derby Dark” or “Stanley Stout” of “Greetby Ale”. But I digress.) Now you would think that the point of a bar with its own brewery would be to get you to drink, but yet again, we were given water with our meal/drink. One pint of ale, two pints of water. It encourages responsible drinking, but surely that can’t be a sound business model can it?
But it’s not just in restaurants. The other thing which is very American and very prevalent are water fountains. These strange stainless steel odysseys have never really caught on in the UK, but they are all over the show here. I have to admit with the temperature still in the low 80’s here, I have made use of every one I have stumbled across today. Water vendors must hate them, but America, I salute your mission to hydrate a nation. Now can we just sort out the micro thin toilet paper that you seem to use……