05 December 2006

London "Coffee House Culture"





For anyone who is not familiar with Viennese Cafés, it is an intrinsic and very essential part of Viennese culture. So if you haven't heard of it now, it is high time that you read up on this!
As I was sitting today in Caffè Nero (a pseudo-italian café chain with classical music doodling in the background) near Russell Square where I usually have breakfast on Monday mornings between classes, I was struck by the very imprint the british queuing phenomena has on the way they design cafés. You have to go to the counter, order, pay and then carry your coffee to the table yourself. It certainly has elements of fast food gastronomy. Even if you find yourself in one of the hidden small cafés, you always have to queue up at the counter. *shaking head*
In Vienna, we don't just "quickly drown a cup of coffee". Going to a Viennese Cafe is like a ritual, drinking coffee is like drinking vine, there is an air of nobility and grandness, a whole set of rules how a proper "Mélange" is made and served, a list of different coffees for the connoisseur/se and what is necessary to convey to the flair of a bygone age (OK, I might have gotten carried away but it is true!).
The pictures show the difference!
Another thing that I realised is that I haven't seen many bakeries so far, where you can buy fresh bread and sweet pastries or whatever they are called over here. Maybe because white toast needs to be manufactured? Probably, it's just not part of the british diet. This problem gives me a head ache every time I try to buy a snack that is not 1) sandwich, 2) wrap or 3) panini. At least I have found black bread, not the one with the grains but the "normal" one, in a big american-style supermarket. Yay! Just this one variety, lying lonely in a basket near to shelves upon shelves of different styles of toast. *sigh*

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