Friday, 18 October 2013

Drinks from around the world

For many expats, and depending whereabouts you happen to be in the world, sharing a few drinks can be a great way to make new friends. It can also, quite literally, help you to get a taste for your new surroundings and uncover any number of interesting local traditions or customs which relate to your new home. With that in mind, here’s a round-up of some things you might not know about drinks around the world. 

In many warm countries, particularly places like Italy and Greece, it’s fashionable to indulge in an aperitif, or a pre-evening drink, before sitting down to enjoy a meal. The word is French, derived from the Latin verb, ‘aperire’ with means ‘to open’. Typically, an aperitif might be a type of cocktail, champagne or spirit, often served with a light snack such as nuts, crisps, olives or Pâté. As the aperitif is usually served prior to a meal, the drink tends to be dry rather than sweet – in Greece, many expats will have come across ouzo, an alcoholic shot which often contains flavours of aniseed and is drunk quickly before a meal with the proclamation “Yammas!”, the Greek equivalent of “cheers”. 

Image source: Google
Tea is perhaps one of the world’s most popular hot drinks, with different varieties brewing all over the world. Reading tea leaves historically was seen as a way to predict fortunes, good and bad, and this remains an enigmatic hobby for tea-fans everywhere. For many expats, the move abroad may at some stage include a desperate search to track down a particular brand of favourite tea or coffee, which can never quite be matched by its foreign counterparts. In more popular expat destinations, you might strike lucky at the local supermarket but others living in more remote locations might not be as lucky. As the availability varies widely, the most fail-safe way to get your hands on a favourite brand is to ask a friend or relative to take pity on you and send supplies, or bring them as a gift when they come to stay.

Image source: Google
For anyone who’s living in a hot climate, it’s important to stay hydrated – and many will agree there’s very little that can beat an ice cold drink on a warm day! Australia is a country widely renowned for its love of cold beer, more commonly known locally as a ‘stubby’. Many pubs and restaurants take a slightly unusual approach, often serving up three quarters of a pint, rather than the usual half or whole measure. Known as a ‘scooner’, Aussies are keen on this particular measure as it means the beer is less likely to become warm throughout drinking. 

Image source: Google
It’s also important to become familiar with the different customs or rules around drinks in your new country. Drinking etiquette varies hugely from country-to-country, particularly when it comes to alcohol. In some places, drinking to excess is the norm, and may even be encouraged, whereas in other countries it’s the kind of behaviour that can get you into real trouble. For instance, in Dubai there is a strong culture for drinking alcohol and ‘all you can drink’ brunches, but any rowdiness or drinking without the required licence could result in a prison stay. Take the time to suss out local laws and guidelines about certain areas where drinking may or may not be permitted, for example in parks or on beaches, and observe others’ behaviour at the local watering holes to get a better idea of what’s acceptable. In other areas, watching how much you’re drinking might be more difficult than you’d expect; for instance, in China, you’ll often find that an empty glass is always re-filled – whether you’re thirsty or not! It may take two or three refusals before your host is willing to take no for an answer, so if you’ve had enough, it might be a good idea to keep your glass full to avoid any awkwardness.

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