Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lost in Translation


The main problem with European summers as a whole is that nobody believes in ice. You can't get it at McDonald's, gas stations don't sell it, refrigerators don't come with ice machines, and it has to be properly broiling before a cafe will think to put ice in the glass with your drink. Europe simply doesn't do cold drinks. The cold drinks in the Netherlands are typically "cool" rather than "cold", but at least the beer is served at less-than-room-temperature.

Having the above as a premise does not bode well for the smoothie, which is the subject of this little rant. The smoothie, to an American, is a thick, cold concoction of frozen yogurt (a.k.a. nonfat ice cream) and fruit, with perhaps some juice and perhaps some ice tossed into the blender and whirred together UPON ORDERING. Or else it's fruit, some juice, and some ice, whirred together UPON ORDERING in a blender. The point being that a smoothie is made on-demand and barely has time to warm above freezing before it's poured into a paper cup and into your sweating hands. Sweating, because nobody ever orders a smoothie in the dead of winter.

A smoothie, in other words, is not a pureed concoction of fruit, yogurt, and perhaps some ice, blended together that morning and then waiting patiently for someone to come along and order it. Not only is it sour by the time the order is placed, but God knows what's been growing in it. I actually returned the smoothie I'd ordered after having 2 sips--the first to see what it tasted like, the second because I couldn't believe it was that inedible--and asked for my money back. The bewildered clerk returned my money, but only after he took a sip of it himself and said, "It tastes fine to me." Call me a stubborn American, but getting food poisoning from something that tasted like soured milk was not worth the €4 the damn thing cost.

A few smoothie places are getting better at it. The Smoothie Shop, which is situated in train stations, is a place where smoothies are made fresh--on a daily basis. But at least they're kept cold throughout the day.


  1. You're kidding! Too odd! I didn't realize they didn't really "do" ice in Europe -- it seems like they should make an exception for smoothies, doesn't it?! ;)

  2. Smoothies are one of those little things about the US that don't translate well, in part because ice is seen as a ripoff--you're paying for the drink, not the ice.

  3. I am addicted to ice cubes. My freezer is stacked with a few trays since you can't get them in most other places.

  4. @ Philly Girl Abroad : Thanks!