2 weeks ago, I made my last pot of Susie the Duck Decaf. And, from what I understand, I can never have another cup. Last year, Mom sent me 3 pounds of Susie the Duck Decaf from Lodi Coffee Roasters. I always enjoyed John’s coffee, and I became good friends with a couple of the baristas who worked for him. When he stepped down and sold the business, I stopped going there. The fun baristas and good conversation left when John did. I did, however, still go to get his coffee. As long as he continued to roast, I continued to buy.
When Mom asked “what do you want from home?”, one of the first things that came to mind was “Lodi coffee”. I made that 3 pounds last a long time. And I enjoyed every cup.
Just last month, I finally found real cream. Chinese don’t use cream in their coffee (or anywhere else, that I can tell), so it’s not readily available. Taicang, however, has a large western population (mostly German), so you can find a few odd things here you wouldn’t expect. I found cream. Or, to be more specific, creamers–the little restaurant-style single-serving creamers. They just appeared last month, and I pray they don’t go away. It’s a little bit of heaven to have real cream in my coffee.
When I talk with my students about differences in culture, I stress the fact that the biggest differences are the smallest. Or… perhaps it’s more accurate to say that the smallest differences are the biggest. When you enter a foreign country–and a foreign culture–you expect things to be different. Language, laws, food… these are major aspects of culture, but you expect them to be different, so the impact is small.
The most jarring–and often problematic–differences, however, are the small ones. In China, the light switches are “backwards”. They use “rocker” switches; you push the bottom to turn lights on, and the top to turn them off. I’ve been here for two years, and I still can’t get that right. In London (and Hong Kong) it’s the fact that you have to look to the right when you cross the street (they drive on the left-hand side).
And… there is no cream in China.