Of Mineral Water and Cultural Adaption

“Alright, I’m going for a run. I’ll be back soon.”
“How long will you be gone?”
“Hmm… probably 45 minutes or so. Why…?”
“I would just like to know whether I should make reservations tonight for only one.”

I have a confession. No, it has nothing to do with the neglecting of this blog, and the blogs I follow, for the past 12 days–although that may come up.

My confession is simple: I like bubbly, mineral water.

There. I wrote it. It is on the great and powerful Internet now; possibly forever. First, I have decided that this inkling toward the bubbly makes me European (specifically German, since I am now in Germany until Oct. 17th, and technically ethnically nearly 80% German). And second, it is a testament to my level of comfort here in Mainz, Deutschland.

A bevy of beautiful, beautiful bubbles!

Water became a topic of conversation between my gf & I, when we decided that Americans generally do not drink bubbly, mineral water (or, with gas as it is sometimes called). Personally, I drink my water from the tap, or from a Brita filter. It has fluoride. It has minerals. It has stuff I should be consuming. But I was told not to do that here in Mainz, Germany. So, we, and everyone it seems, drinks large 1.5 liter bottles of H2O, and then returns them for 0.25€ each at their local grocery store. Bubbly water, like San Pellegrino in the States, is, as I referred to it, “hoity toity,” and it requires a certain comfort level for the middle-class American palate.

In 2003-04, when I was living in Rome, Italy, I tried the whole “with gas” thing. It didn’t take. Again, last time I was in Germany, February 2012, I didn’t like the bubbles or the minerals. But now something just snapped. We were at lunch two days ago eating Vietnamese food (Ha Noi, definitely eat here!), when the waiter brought bubbly water with a lemon slice and it matched the yellow curry perfectly. I haven’t looked back ever since. In fact, I bought a 6-pack of still (for the gf) and a 6-pack of medium bubbly (for me) last night. I’m a changed man.

For your amusement: some silly questions I asked my gf about the bubbly water for which I received perfectly serious answers:
—”So, is it more expensive?”
—”Do the bubbles come first, then they take them out? or do they add bubbles?”
—”There are various degrees of bubbles?!?”
—”Do ALL Germans drink the bubbly water?”

The second part of this post refers to the introduction quote. I went for a jog yesterday. In the States I jog three times a week, three 5k’s, depending on the weather. I have never jogged here. It was uplifting. It was enlightening. It was peaceful. It was glorious. It was empowering. And, I successfully found my way back to our apartment. I jogged along the Rhine with the old couples slowly shuffling along together hand-in-hand. I jogged along the promenade with the young mothers and fathers calmly pushing strollers over cobblestones. And I returned home to the kitchen emanating a wondrous aroma of a boiling basil and tomato sauce.

You see, when I visit my gf here in Mainz, we are never outside of earshot of one another the entire time of my visit. We work peacefully and respectfully around one another, we can be silent for hours, we sometimes talk over a meal for four hours straight, we read together, we watch films together, or go on walks. Me going off on my own is a big deal. It is part of my comfort here in Germany. It is part of me finding my own way. It is part of me coming back to her; of absence being the beautiful knowledge of a return.

Thanks for reading everyone. I would love to hear your own silly cultural adaption stories, or your opinion on bubbly water!