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ice water

My new refrigerator has an ice maker. After living in Paris for close to ten years, I’ve kind of gotten used to not having ice-on-demand. And when out and about, I’m now used to being served drinks with just one puny ice-cube bobbing sadly on the surface of a tepid drink. So now, when I go back to the states, I’m always a little overwhelmed by the oversized glasses filled to the brim with brisk, frosty, cracklin’ ice cubes. Because I’ve rounded the corner of converting to some of the European habits (although the 5hr cycle on my dishwasher still baffles me – what the heck is going on in there?) I sometimes have to slip into that “Can I have water with no ice, please?” mode, which pegs me squarely in the minds of American waitpeople as one of “those” customers.

But the glacial movement that’s spread across North America doesn’t seem to be reserved just for France; it seems that there is a European conspiracy against the chilly beasts. One I got used to no ice, I really stopped giving ice much thought. But when visitors come, they would always want me to ask the café waiter for some extra ice for their drinks. Then the glass of ice arrives, with a long spoon, which they shovel into their drinks, scraping the bottom of the glass so as not to miss one single drop of the still-cold water.

I’ve heard all sorts of reasons why ice isn’t used over here. My favorite was that if you drink something with ice in it, your stomach will freeze. Which might explain all us uptight Americans, who just are in need of having our stomachs defrosted. (Or maybe we just need to take more of those five-week vacations that the French get*, to sit in the sun and melt down those icicles in our tummies.)

I think it’s a cost and space issue. French cafés and restaurants don’t have a lot of space, and running an ice machine is undoubtably costly and certainly takes up valuable real estate in tight quarters. However as a reader pointed out a while back, “The only time you get a lot of ice in Paris is when you order a cocktail!” – presumably because les glaçons are cheaper than the liquor. Or maybe it’s because they know that the alcohol counteracts all that ice, so you don’t need to worry about your stomach freezing up.


A friend of mine who entertained a lot, who has sadly moved, had an ice machine in her apartment here in Paris. Romain got one whiff of ice over at her place and never went back. And ever since that first sip, he’s made sure there’s always a bac à glaçons or two in the freezer at all times. Similar to how my friend Bryan pointed out, that no one in France would ever dream of wearing anything so declassé as polar fleece trousers – until they try them on and feel how comfortable they are.

So now we sit around the house, in our polaire pants, drinking icy-cold beverages. And no, you don’t need to worry about me, because I assume all that polar fleece keeps our stomachs warm. However I’m a little concerned that the ice movement may start growing, once other people get a taste of the cool refreshment of it. For those who don’t have ice makers, which I would venture to be the other 99% of folks in Paris (…and for those who said I’d never amount to anything, who’s laughing now that I’m part of the coveted one-percent of something!?) – you can order ice to be delivered right to your front door.

But even though I’m part of the icy élite, ice isn’t just a luxury around here. Since I do a lot of cooking – and cooling, I often need a stockpile of cubes to chill down custards, ice marble countertops** for rolling pastry in the summer, and occasionally, as part of my job—or because of my job…) — I need to invent a cocktail***.

*Hey, I’m not knocking it. In fact, I’m waiting for mine to kick in.

**Never mind that I don’t have a marble countertop to ice down.

***Never mind that ‘inventing cocktails’ isn’t actually in my job description.


    • Cristina

    When I read the first sentence of the post, I thought “Oh, WOW, an ICEMAKER!” because I am an American in the northern UK and it has been 7 years since I’ve had one. Here, in addition to the ice cube tray, they have disposable, quilted bags that you fill with water to make ice cubes. We had a heat wave last week and boy was I grateful for them then!

    • cuisinedeprovence

    That is always the first thing my American guests comment on: “Oh, you have a icemaker – we have so missed ice cubes!”

    • diane

    i recently moved to antwerp, belgium. during dinner with friends and their parents it came up that i drink warmed water. the 3 elder sitting across from me were astonished–one said that perhaps i was too lazy to make tea and another that one only drinks warm water to get sick. later, as my friend walked them out to their car, his father said: “oh, she seems nice, but it’s too bad she drinks warm water”

    • Prêt à Voyager

    I laughed when a friend introduced me to the compartmentalized plastic baggie ice “trays” (mentioned in comment one) that you fill with water and rip apart – and throw away when you’re done. There is a certain simplicity to them that just makes you go “wow.” . . . I too don’t know how to handle drinking water with ice back in the US.


    • Cate

    My feelings EXACTLY! I am from Arizona and it is IMPERATIVE that we have ice in our drinks or else we would be drinking boiling beverages all the time. I miss ice so much. Although we have an ice maker in our house every waiter and waitress looks at me funny when I ask for ice for my Coca. Ugh.

    • Mandy

    Tell it like it is!
    Aachen, Germany here and its the same sad story!

    • Elisa

    Some years ago, we spent our hollydays on “bateaux” across the Canal du Midi.
    First thing we asked for was where could we buy ice cubes bags just before getting on board, and the answer was: ” Les espagnoles toujours la même question”…
    Of course we could not get any, so just grabbed a salad bowl, filled it with water, freezed it and broke it into pieces with a hammer…
    That was my job every day!!!

    • JenniferB

    I am not a North American and so am amazed that you guys are so addicted to ice-filled glasses when just a few cubes have a very satisfactory cooling affect especially when the drink is already cooled. I grew up in Sth. Australia, the hottest and driest state, and we never developed the same custom; at least not in my first 30 years.

    Then there’s the other aspect of paying for a drink that is 90% frozen water. I simply won’t stand for that. Next to the ‘money for old rope’ aspect, I imagine that the flavour becomes more and more diluted as the ice melts, or are you meant to quickly slurp that through the ice as quickly as possible? Then leave the ice to be thrown out?

    Perhaps it is another version of conspicuous consumption like the huge food servings in Nth America. I read somewhere that this arose out of the once desperately poor and oppressed early immigrants displaying that that they had made it and could now have as much food etc. as they wanted, and then some.
    Culture is indeed a powerful force that seems so often to fly in the face of reasoning.

    All that said, here in France I once needed bags of ice to keep bottles cool for a big lunch party in the middle of summer. No idea where to find such a thing so an old fridge was turned back on for the occasion. The glass water pitchers were kept cool with a sprinkling of ice-blocks in the form of large diamonds.

    • Laura

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t think that having a lot of ice is a sign of “conspicuous consumption.” Would you say that it is conspicuous consumption to drink a lot of water? If you have a freezer which is already freezing things, ice can actually help make your refrigerator more energy efficient. Pick on McDonald’s, sure, but I think that picking on Americans’ use of ice is just getting silly and a little bit holier-than-thou. “Shoveling” ice into your water is a little different than shoveling chips and cookies into your mouth.

    That being said, I don’t like ice in my water, but it’s because I have sensitive teeth.

    • Kathy

    This is like the “les courants d’air” thing. David, has anyone here ever explained that ‘phobia’ to you?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I’ve also learned that open windows – and any sort of ventilation – is the cause of many maladies. It’s especially hard in the summer when it gets warm out (and in) and you’re stuck inside and no one will open a window. Interestingly, the worst are the métros and buses, which are now being ventilated. But there are signs on the buses in Paris that you can open the window, but if someone wants it closed, they have priority.

    • Elaine

    Oh my gosh, Kathy, that’s so funny… I was just about to mention that here in Croatia, people are wary of many things cold, such as air conditioning, crosswinds, and drafts in general. I’m not exactly sure what this ‘phobia’ you speak of is, but I imagine it must be similar.

    At any rate, I’ve adapted so much to the lack of ice that I now have a hard time drinking icy-cold beverages… but I still haven’t gotten used to the dearth of fans (let alone air conditioning) in the middle of summer.

    • Emma

    We are the 99%! We are the 99%! We are the 99%…. in America…. who have a plethora of excess ice on hand.

    I’m by no means an ice fiend, but it’s crazy for me to consider not having easy access to it.

    • Gene

    I can handle the little or no ice thing for so long, then I really want a tall frosty coke laden with ice cubes and it tastes so decadent when I get it! Other than that, I’m not big on ice in water, even here in the states.

    • Shirley@bells-bakery

    Ha ha ha I feel very left out of this commenting as I am the girl who pulls the ice out of her drink or asks for “no ice” but then again it is very rare you need a cooling drink here in Ireland!

    • Kathy

    It’s interesting too, that in summer 2003, the year of the huge ‘canicule’ (heat wave) in Europe, here was hardly a fan to be found in stores here in the middle of France. That summer, around 15,000 people (mostly older folks) died from heat-related causes all over the country (the other European countries had smaller numbers). Since then fans are for sale in the all the places you would expect….and ceiling fans too. Maybe this “courants d’air” thing is a leftover from the middle ages and the plague.

    • Jade

    I feel I must make the comment that loading drinks with ice is not just North American fascination. I’m South African and we follow the same trend. I cant explain it, but somehow the drink just tastes so much better. Yes some of us even add a few blocks to wine (sacrilege, I know, but there you have it). Unfortunately our accents make ‘Ice’ sound like ‘Arse’ in any other country. Just imagine the looks on some poor waiter’s face when we’re asking for ‘ice cream’.
    And just to add, I’ve been reading and following your blog for the past two years now. Thanks for entertaining, teaching and reawakening a long forgotten dream to travel to France. Travel savings are underway……

    • Anne

    When are we going to see a pic of that beautiful new kitchen….or did I miss it?

    • ParisGrrl

    I was served a drink recently in Paris that had ice cubes in it, and without thinking I asked: “What’s This?” So I guess I’ve converted on that front, but I still haunted by cravings for hot sauce and large blocks of cheddar cheese.

    • julie

    i’m asian but grew up in north america, and i have to admit that i have the “fobby” habit of drinking water at room temperature, even when i’ve lived in some pretty hot places, like phoenix and vietnam. i find that i usually prefer my water in particular that way because it’s something that i like to drink in large gulps, and it goes down easier at room temperature. i sometimes find that ice-cold drinks can be like steaming-hot drinks — the temperature slows down the rate at which i drink them, and i drink those for enjoyment more than for thirst. the only drink i must have ice cold straight from the fridge is milk.

    i’m not sure what it is, whether asians have a lower tolerance for cold or what (though i’ve also lived 10 years in canada), but my mom actually prefers to drink her water hot. she was made fun of at her office for a long time, and then some health experts came one day and said that water is actually healthier and best drunk hot, if you can bear to drink it that way (something about the nutrients absorbing better in your body). and as for myself, i love hot coffee / tea any time of the year, whatever the weather, but i only prefer something full of ice when it is absolutely hot out and i am drowning in sweat.

    ice seems to be a crucial thing to americans, though, and i have to confess i get rather embarrassed when people come over and i forget to offer/put ice in their water. it’s as though lukewarm water were as gross to them as lukewarm milk is to me, i guess.

    and while we’re sorta kinda on the topic, i thought i’d also mention how some people refuse to drink out of a mug if the beverage is not hot. one day, someone dropped by my home and was trying to help herself to some water. i hadn’t had a chance to replace my broken glasses, and a few hadn’t been washed yet, but despite the row of mugs right in front of her, she kept looking around for a glass, and when i apologized for not having any available at that moment and suggested she might have to use a mug, she seemed a little taken aback by that. i realize it’s probably a pretty asian / fobby / unclassy thing to drink non-hot drinks out of a mug… but if you think about it, the practical function of a mug (to not burn your hands) makes it more necessary for a hot drink than a glass would be necessary for a cold drink. anyway, i’ll stop here before i get too far off topic.

    • Natalie

    An ice maker?! How exciting! Truly!

    Here in Edinburgh, we don’t have any of those fancy ice makers anyway. In fact, our fridge is way to small to even hold an ice cube tray and, say, a pint of ice cream. But yeah, you just kind of get used to it.

    Also, in regards to your dishwasher taking five hours to clean, while we don’t have one of those fancy dishwashers in our flat, we do have a washer/dryer combo that takes approximately half the day to wash a small load of 5-6 items. *cries* But at least it washes stuff, right?

    • Sini

    :D As an European I’ve never really understood why all the Americans are so into ice… I always feel like they water down the drinks if you’re not finishing your drink quickly enough… It seems like some people just don’t get it.

    • Kathy

    And I don’t understand square bed pillows…. :)

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Kathy: What was interesting, was after that year, I started noticing a air-conditioners for sale as well. Paris can get really (really) hot in the summer, and the city started sending out guidelines after the summer heatwave that so many people died from, noting that one should go to an air-conditioned place for a few hours a day. I’m not a big fan of the full-on AC, although it’s much preferable to passing away.

    Sini: I don’t drink a lot of soda, but when I do, I have to have ice in it because most of them are too strong for me.

    Kathy: I haven’t figured those out either – although I have three of them (!)

    • JenniferB

    Oh don’t get me started on European pillow shapes and sizes. It was bad enough living in Holland (fairly standard) and France (multi-sizes) then IKEA (small square) and Zara Home (small oblong) came along and added yet more. Consequently I now have 6 sizes of pillowcases for 3 sizes of pillows. Sorry – back to food and drink….

    • Rochelle

    When I moved to Portugal a little over a year ago, one thing I noticed right away is the complete lack of ice. Even in Canada, a place that is known as “The Frozen North” has ice cube filled glasses like in the states.

    Now lets just say I’m glad to hear that it’s not just a Portuguese thing to not have ice, and I’m also jealous that you have your own ice maker for the hot summer!

    • Claudia

    It’s a simple pleasure. That’s why I love it.

    • Jeanette

    This made me laugh out loud ” So now we sit around the house, in our polaire pants, drinking icy-cold beverages.”

    Thank you. I needed this this morning. Always a pleasure to read your blog. Have a good one.

    • Jessica

    unless the ice is in ice-water (for drinking) I’d rather not have any. All it does, and quite obviously, is watering the drink down. we do have these plastic things which is filled with a cooling agent. Pop in freezer, put in glass, no watering down.

    • Kim

    Oh David, I love the way you write. And it’s funny how different countries have their things. I’ve read what you’ve said about the French peoples aversion to draughts, breezes etc… and here (Canada) I would say most people think you need fresh air to keep you *from* getting sick. I crack a window all year round (and boy, it gets COLD in January ; )

    • Patricia Aishton

    When we moved to Brussels there was one ice cube tray in the refrigerator,each compartment holding about a tablespoon of water. One of the precious items muled to me by a friend,real ice cube trays.Finally investing in a freezer was also interesting,I wanted a chest freezer not a bunch of itty bitty drawers.
    While in Russia,I was surprised that learned people believed that eating ice cream would cause sore throats.
    And about conspicuous consumption, other than Thanksgiving, I have never sat down to a five course meal with cleansers between courses,several types of wine,bread,cheese,chocolate. Not that that is a bad thing..

    • Barbara Abeille

    When I moved to France permanently, I brought along in my shipment US ice cube trays (much larger than the French) and plastic bacs (what’s the English word?) that fit into the freezer drawers.
    I just keep the bacs full of ice. It’s like having a machine except that I am the machine. I do appreciate the pleasure of being able to just reach in and pull out a handfull of ice cubes.
    Living in Provence and drinking Rosé wine all summer, often with an ice cube, I am very happy to have my ice cubes handy.

    • Nazneen

    I am a Brit living in America and I don’t understand the need for a glassful of ice. We have ice water and an ice maker on our fridge and I drink water from the tap! My kids and hubby however fill their glasses to the brim with ice and then add ice water. Then take one sip and leave the glass in the counter for the ice to all melt. It’s nice to have ice, especially for cooking/baking, but I don’t need glassfuls of it for my drinks. Sometimes water shortage can affect why countries don’t have ice…like in the Middle East where they have to desalinate their water for drinking.

    • Joanna Kragt

    I grew up in the Netherlands, drinking water from a pump and not having ice ever–except hanging from the roof in winter. My uncle had a bakery, and one summer evening after closing time the family sat outside–and Royal Crown soda was served. My aunt came from the kitchen with a cup of ice cubes (yes–she had entered the 20th century and bought an ice tray!) and carefully deposited one cube in each glass. We all sat in awe as we watched it slowly disintegrate into the warm soda :)

    And yes–ventilation was the enemy!! The moment a window or door was opened to provide some kind of cross-ventilation, all the old ladies would panic and yell “Draft! There’s a draft here, I feel a draft!”, as though the Grim Reaper himself had entered the house. Ah, fond memories!!

    • Susan

    Ice sort of deadens the treated flavor of our municipal tap water. Here in the U.S. the water, especially in summer, gets extra chlorinated because there tends to be occasional algea blooms in some of the water reserviors. It tastes awful unless it’s iced or flavored with other things. I use deionized bottled water now. My coffee and tea taste so much better than using tap water and I don’t mind drinking water without the ice, but only when I need to take an asprin. I do like water with tons of ice in it…and I’m NOT ashamed of that! There is nothing excessive about freezing water to use in a beverage…

    • kate

    another non-luxurious ice need – blanching vegetables! how do people blanch in paris?

    • parisbreakfast

    there is plenty of ice at the seafood venders in the marche
    And Paris has way more glace/ice cream shops than NYC anyday of the week
    and yet…
    My sister recently said the reason the cafes are so full is Paris apartments are very small.
    People do say the darnest things…

    • Sallyann

    My husband & I own an ice company. We were on a Lufthansa flight to visit friends in Switzerland and my husband ordered a Coke. After asking the steward for more ice, he told her we made ice and gave her his card. She looked at the card for a long while and then asked in a shocked voice “And you can live doing this?”

    • Blanca

    Hi David..thanks for the laugh! Loved your dishwasher comment. Maybe your dishwasher brand and the Parisian power company are working some sort of deal. It would be cheaper to hire a 5 person team to come do your dishes than to run that thing for 5 hours a day..not to mention they would be done in 20 minutes! Speaking of unnecessary American things, have you ever heard of a pasta boat? My mother-in-law gave me one for Christmas. If you want a laugh, check it out online pasta It actually takes longer to cook pasta using the gadget..pretty hilarious.
    Sorry I digress from your ice post. I drink iceless water in South Florida.

    • Stephanie

    I think all of these little stories are so funny! Ice is such a basic thing in the US and so rare in Europe. I have been here for 5 years now and have adapted to not having ice, but when it is really hot, I sure do miss it. Sometimes I put my entire glass or carafe in the freezer to cool off. French kids drink granitas all the time but at some point (around adolescence I guess) the French stomachs can no longer tolerate cold beverages. I served a smoothie to my 40 year old sister in law and she told me it gave her a stomach ache for 48 hours!

    • Sarah Carletti

    Love it! I love my ice cold drinks! Chill away!

    • Veronique

    Bonjour David. One of my favorite memories, while visiting Paris, after I moved to the United States. Three American tourists. Three girls. Decide to share a table on a busy Champs-Elysées café terrace ar rush hour. Surround themselves with huge bags (for protection against nasty Parisian waiters? :-) Decide to share a salad and ask for three forks. Do not notice Parisian waiter’s frown. Call waiter back. Complain about drinks being too warm and ask for “glaçons” (ice cubes.) Waiter comes back after 5mn and ceremoniously puts a small plate in the middle of the table… holding 3 ice cubes! Mean? Oui. Funny? Oui, also. Have a great day!

    • david c. terry

    How funny…..Just last Summer, my French in-laws arrived here (USA) for their annual three-week visit, for which I threw a large party (100 or so folks).

    My mother-in-law (a tiny, wry, fluent in four languages, fiercely intelligent professor of 17th century literature) came down into the kitchen during that afternoon when I’d returned from shopping, and she noticed my filling three huge coolers with ice (this is North Carolina, and the temperature was about 98 degrees).

    She cocked an eyebrow and immediately said “You must be anticipating a very lively party… many bodies are you intending to ice-down afterwards?”

    And, yes….at her otherwise luxurious house outside of Tours, there’s never any ice to be had beyond what comes in an i-phone-sized “ice-tray”.

    I’ve grown quite resigned to this business over the years.

    David Terry

    • Alyce Morgan

    Yuck, I’ve turned into one of “those” customers who asks for no ice. (The water usually arrives with ice in it anyway. If it doesn’t, I leave extra tip.) Goodness, my teeth freeze with those gorgeous pearly crowns I now sport. Also, after living in Europe, I just got used it. We recently bought German appliances for our 100 year-old St. Paul house: Fisher-Paykel. The frig has a wine rack in the bottom, a button to quick-chill wine in the freezer (with timer so it doesn’t explode), and a small ice-maker in the bottom freezer section. The dishwasher, which has two pull-out drawers and no more backaches, takes 110 minutes for the REGULAR cycle. What are the dishes doing in there all that time? No German (or American, actually) PEOPLE I know wash for that long unless they’re in the hot tub. Happy cold drinks to you–just in time for summer in Paris! (Did I miss the pics, too?)

    • Kathleen @ Simplified Paleo

    If only I knew it was such a simple solution — I’m off to defrost my tummy now, thanks!

    • Pamela

    I’m American (Brooklynite) and loathe ice in my water! On the rare occasion that I have a soda, I’ll ask for less ice than what they’d normally serve. So, I am definitely “that” customer. I was thrilled in France to get water brought to the table without ice! Brooklyn restaurants thankfully do not overdo it with the ice nearly as much as other places in the US. I’ll never forget being in the Napa Valley with my family a few years ago, my brother in law relentlessly picked on me for asking for water with no ice in it. He called me high-maintenance, which I found amusing since it takes less effort to fill a glass of water up than to put ice in it and then fill with water.

    By the way, it is true that if you drink too many cold drinks it dampens your digestion/digestive fire. That saying isn’t completely off.

    • Kiki

    Boy, you crack me up; David, the Ice Queen…. :)
    It’s so funny to see ice cubes from the other side! I’m always baffled when in the States at the huge glassed filled to the rim with ice …. :)))) I always have taken note that more and more ‘american’ frigos have ice makers and I wondered just how many Americans we have here that those monsters get (obviously) bought. Having said that, I have at least (and at all times, summer and winter) three ice cube ‘bags’ in my freezer plus those cute (and pretty useless but joli) glacon in form of lemon wedges etc…
    My dishwasher, a German model, takes 2h48′ for a ‘normal’ cycle…. it’s a mystery to me too but I NEVER ever had such proper and clean glasses with not a drop of water and I gladly put up with the length – until I visit my sis in law who washes everything in 28′ (and it shows, they have ‘milky’ glass only….) but it IS quick! Another smile for that detail, David
    Bisous, Kiki

    • Linda

    Your cubes look very nice, but can we see the fridge you chose??? I’m sure everyone is busting to see.

    • Sylvia

    Hahaha, stomach freeze? I’ve always hated the excessive amounts of ice put in drinks here in the USA, but it’s true, we get used to it after a while and then we travel we start missing our watered down drinks.
    Congrats for being part of the coveted one-percent of something!
    Good post, it made me laugh.

    • Veronica

    Maybe it’s not the case in Paris, but here in the south we can buy big sacks of ice cubes from the supermarket or the fishmonger for a couple of euros. In Spain, for some reason petrol stations always sell them.

    Yes, I do put ice in my rosé, but only a couple of cubes, and only if it’s really hot weather. Just plonk your bottles in a bucket half-filled with a mixture of water and ice cubes, and they will stay cool.

    • Marie M.C.

    Did I miss the post about your new kitchen? I’d love to see it. Oh, and I LOVE ice. But when in Europe I learned not to order it because when I did the waiter seemed so put out — like he’d need to walk a hundred miles and fight a fire-breathing dragon put out.

    • Lisa

    I agree the excess of ice here in the states in restaurants is a pure money-saving technique.
    We have an ice maker and water on our fridge, I drink straight from the tap as we have well water and it’s absolutely cold enough.
    In summer I freeze leftover coffee into cubes for iced coffee, so as it melts (as mentioned above) it doesn’t dilute the drink.

    • Matt

    I may be besting you one here; I’m known to ask for (of all things) a ‘warm’ (i.e., non-frosted) glass for my beer!

    • Laura @MotherWouldKnow

    I’m such an ice connoisseur that I prefer ice freshly frozen in trays to that made with a built-in ice maker (Try it, you can tell the difference if ice sits for a while.) When I travel, rather than ask for it, even though it is difficult I’ve always tried to acculturate to the “no ice” mindset. But after hearing how Romain has been won over, maybe I should not worry about the ugly American stereotype and consider asking for ice as a way of bringing enlightenment to the poor, uniced of the world:)

    • Margie

    This post is just, FROSTY.


    • Leslie

    I live in the south of France… and here, you can happily order ice to go with your drink-especially rose wine. They usually bring you a small bucket (very small) filled with ice cubes. More than enough to ice your drink. The locals all put ice in the rose, and even the red. And I have an “American” refrigerator, bought locally, with an ice maker — so I would say that ice may be an issue in Paris… but in Nice, where heat is an issue, ice isn’t!!!!

    • Steph

    Hi Julie, I’m Chinese Australian and the Chinese believe drinking cold drinks is bad for the body, my mum only tends to drink hot water. If you visit China you’ll find they don’t really drink anything cold (not even beer) and drinks fridge are used mainly for storage and are not turned on.

    • PC

    Before we moved to Switzerland, I went on a mad search for ice cube trays in the US. Target – none; Safeway – none; CVS – none. I found some silicone ones and, feeling desperate, I bought them. Big mistake and worthless for making ice, or rather using ice. But they were not quite as bad as the metal one I found in Switzerland — the old, old fashion type with the lever that you lift to (not) have your ice cubes pop out automatically. Finally on a trip back to the SF Bay Area, I found those great semi-rigid plastic ones and purchased several. Yes, not much room in the freezer, so we bought a small additional freezer from a friend who was moving back to the US. Almost time for a Perroquet (once the outdoor furniture dries out from all of the rain)!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I actually bought the OXO ice cube trays back with me from the states a few years ago, which are great because they have lids which keep the water from sloshing out. And they have a nice curved shaped, which helps the cubes release easily.

    • Corinne Dougnac-Bedaw

    So funny and so true! After living in Texas for 35 years I am one of those French who have to ask for more ice when I am back home. Oh, yes, the tall glass filled with ice cubes,the long handled spoon, the waiter’s raised eyebrows and my family looking for a place to hide. Thank you David, you made my day!

    • zoe

    I spent a summer in Italy during college and had an apartment in Florence. It was a pretty hot, humid summer and I drank a lot of room temperature beverages, which never seemed as satisfying. I missed ice a lot, and while part of me never wanted to leave Italy, when I got off the airplane in Chicago, I ordered a drink with extra-extra-ice right there in the airport.

    • Katherine Weaver

    >>I am not a North American . . .
    I’m an American who’s lived on both sides of the pond. Just FYI, the proper term is “American” – not North American. We’re either southerners, northerners, or midwesterners, etc. based on which state we’re from. Though, all in all, the term “American” will always suffice.

    >>and so am amazed that you guys are so addicted to ice-filled glasses when just a few cubes have a very satisfactory cooling affect . . . I imagine that the flavour becomes more and more diluted as the ice melts . . .
    Actually, a drink becomes diluted (and yucky) more quickly when there are as you say, “a few cubes”.

    >>or are you meant to quickly slurp that through the ice as quickly as possible? Then leave the ice to be thrown out?
    This made me laugh. It has nothing to do with how fast you can consume the drink. Quite simply, it’s about having an ice-cold drink. Yes, the ice is often discarded at the end. However, “some people” like to chew their ice (especially on a hot summer day). This is considered bad manners in public if it’s done loudly, but it’s still done. And many children like to do it too. Though don’t get any ideas . . . we’re not all over here loudly chewing our ice cubes to annoy one another. Less people do it than those who do.

    >>Perhaps it is another version of conspicuous consumption like the huge food servings in Nth America. I read somewhere that this arose out of the once desperately poor and oppressed early immigrants displaying that that they had made it and could now have as much food etc . . .
    The root of the food thing has some merit. It’s definitely something that’s gotten out of hand. However, I think adding heavily iced drinks into the conversation is a far stretch. I think on the simplest level, Americans just like a lot of ice in their drinks.

    • Annabel (Mrs Redboots)

    I can’t think what I’d do with an ice maker – my freezer makes ice in an ice-cube tray very satisfactorily, and I can store excess cubes in the little box underneath it.

    But why would I want more than one, or at most two, cubes in my drink? All it does is water the drink down. On the extremely rare occasions I have a fizzy drink, if I want it chilled I either drink it straight from the chilled counter at the shop, or put it in the fridge for an hour first. I keep water in the fridge in the summer, and white wine.

    One can buy here mugs that you keep in the freezer, and which chill your drink without watering it down.

    As for the water tasting nasty straight from the tap, that’s what water filters are for! Or, if you can’t get one, let it stand in a jug (in the fridge if you want it chilled) for an hour before drinking.

    • Jennifer Zielinska

    Dear David,

    Polar fleece pants?? Wow. I don’t know you personally, but I have been reading your blog for some time now, and I really would have never suspected you were the type.

    We don’t have ice here in Poland much. Guess there’s no need since it’s so damn cold here on the Baltic Sea coast. Besides, Poles believe, no – know, that ice, or anything too cold, is the root cause of tonsillitis and a bevy of other throat complaints. It’s funny, but you get used to not having glaciated beverages, but I still refuse to eat my ice-cream slowly, as all Polish children are commanded to do. It’s my devil-may-care streak, I suppose.

    Thanks for the laughs, again.

    • Laura

    I have always enjoyed one or two cubes of ice in my mineral water. Know that is totally not cool, but actually it is on a Summer day. Sounds like your new ice machine will be enjoyed and well used, just like the rest of your new kitchen. Congratulations on what sounds to be the near completion of your renovation!

    • Colin Brace

    I can’t believe what I am reading here. Refrigeration may be useful for hygienic or food preparation reasons, but chilling food or drink kills the flavor. Don’t you people have taste buds? I prefer nearly everything at room temperature, including beer.

    • Amy

    As a Francophile who actually lived in France for six months, I can vouch for you! I have started to detest ice now. I prefer that puny iceberg in my citron presse :)

    • Pat Machin

    I’m surprised you dared to say you have an ice maker. The main reason we poor, benighted, Europeans do not use ice the way you do in the US is that our kitchens do not have enough space for BIG American refrigerators.

    I sacrificed much needed counter space for a big fridge and freezer and some of my British friends are quite bemused.

    On the other hand, my (now) American daughter was most upset that I have a bigger fridge than she does.

    As for liking ice in your drinks. I’ll shrug at that and say “It takes all sorts to make up a world.” It’s not exactly a moral issue.

    • Ann

    My husband is French and has the typical ice phobia… He claims that ingesting anything too cold is a recipe for the D, which according to him is why America is full of public restrooms… Great post!

    • Sarah

    I tend to decline ice when out simply because you get half the amount of drink in your glass. Who wants to pay for frozen water! Plus as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed a sensitive tooth – ice is best avoided in that case.

    I do always have an ice cube tray full in the freezer, but sometimes the ice can sit there for months. I keep a water filter in the fridge for cold water.

    • Mem

    WOW…can’t believe the word ‘ice’ could bring forth so much verbiage!

    • Gloria Christison

    The number of times I have been in dining rooms, living rooms, class rooms across France, in the city, in the countryside, in the homes of friends when within a few measly feet there is the most fetching window, yes, that opens and that would allow that cooling breeze to flow through the room. “Mais non, pas de tou! ” “Mais non, jamais!
    I have surmised that this is also the foundation for the ubiquitous wearing of scarves to protect the throat from some breeze which might set off a flurry of physical maladies that might result in an horrific end.
    David, when I read your comment about the ever closed French window, memories were unsashed–but I would still rather be there than here.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know if this is true, but I was once wondering about the dearth of windows in some French country homes. It was explained to me – by a French friend – that people paid tax based on how many windows their houses had. So windows were perceived as “bad.” So perhaps that has something to do with it…?

    • Julie McCoy

    David, Funny article, I see not much as changed since I lived in Europe in the 70’s with nary an ice cube to be found!

    • didi

    Katherine: re “North American” – we up in Canada, which is on the continent of North America as opposed to South and Central America, refer to Canadians and people living in the USA as North Americans. “Americans” often forget that there is a whole other bunch of people north of the states, and all of us are North Americans – no pretense here at all with the term.

    I’m a hot water drinker myself.

    • SAJ

    When do we get to see the new place? I’m so excited!

    • ken

    sorry bout the “test” there usually requirement to sign in or ……..

    anyway, i notice David refers to “wait people” this seems like a very inefficient use of language as i assume he mean “waiters”. Why stretch it out into 2 words?….odd

    Or could it be an attempt at political correctness, [which frightens some people into inventing new words] although i scratch my head to work out how the former is incorrect as i dose not mention men or women.

    yes, a small point but i am interested to know if anyone cares to enlighten me….anyone…David himself even

    • truhali

    I remember when in the States I asked the bartender NOT to give ice in my drink and he said “OK, but I cannot you a full glass”. Huh?

    • Astrid

    We grew up in the South Carolina with an Austrian mother. After nearly 40 yrs in the States, she has finally succumbed to idea of iced tea – cold tea and ice – sehr dumm aber notwendig. Ok – back to French stuff…

    • AnnaZed

    English people think that drinking iced drinks or even cold drinks causes indigestion (not strictly frozen stomach). That’s why they drink the warm beer they say. When in the UK I have politely refrained from suggesting that it is possibly their disgusting food that causes indigestion.

    • AnnaZed

    Conversely in New Orleans (where I come from) it is considered perfectly acceptable to put ice in beer. It’s hot there.

    • Sarah

    To Ken,

    “Waiter” is a masculine term. “Waitress” is a feminine term. “Wait staff” is also a real term, and it is not gendered. It is used in the same situations as “server,” for the same reasons (sometimes the distinction between the host, bus, and wait staff is a touchy subject, let alone getting into the “ranks” within the kitchen). :)

    • Iris

    After three trips to Paris, I would like to comment that the water has a terrible taste.
    I used a Brita and that helped, so I can’t imagine making ice cubes out of the water. I brought tea from the USA and bought tea from Fauchon and Marriage Freres (spelling)
    and you could really taste the difference. Also the instant coffee from Starbuck’s had an unpleasant taste. I spoke to someone from Japan and she agree that the water definitely affects the taste of whatever beverage you are making.

    • Eleni in Athens

    You’re in the wrong part of Europe!!
    Come south!

    Portugal, Spain, and especially where I live Greece – ice is a NECESSITY. Every cafe & restaurant brings big glasses of ice with water (note the word order-); ouzo is served with a bowl of ice on the side; big ice cube trays on sale everywhere; all hotels & restaurants of medium size and up have ice machines….and we sell fridges with ice-makers!

    Come for a Solidarity-on-ice tour this summer – LOL: as long as we can pay the electric bills we still have ICE!!!!

    • Sheila

    I can;t wait much longer to see your new apartment. Even if it’s not finished.
    My new dishwasher’s normal cycle is around 3 hours which I also thought was ridiculous.. I found the explanation was that this somehow saves enery. That seems very hard to even believe. It has a one hour cycle that uses more energy if you are in a hurry.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      It was explained to me that the longer cycles save energy (the cycles on my clothes washer are equally lengthy.) Am not sure how a longer cycle saves energy – a machine being on for 5 hrs versus 45 minutes, but I’m just going to go with it. (And I’m going to set my dishwasher to start a cycle when I plan on being out of the house for the day!)

    • mary beth

    I am an American and LOVE LOVE LOVE ice cubes – lots of them in my beverages. We travelled to Germany years ago and I had to laugh when we went to a Chinese restaurant – they brought our sodas filled to the brim with ice and I was soooooo happy. The little Chinese waiter jokingly said he knew we were Americans and thought we would be happy with some ice . . . . .he was soooooooooo right!

    • mazz

    thrilled that the horrid building work must have finished, at last…if the fridge and dishwasher are working, i hope the oven[s] are too and your new place is giving you pleasure
    would like to know what oven[s] you choose, only because, i’m redoing a kitchen and would appreciate a real chefs opinion…best regards

    • Melody Scott

    And you need ice to keep your vegetables nice and green after cooking them! Oh, there are all kinds of reasons to have an ice-maker. Fill a bag with ice to cool an injury, nurse a headache (or a hangover after all those cool drinks), numb your tastebuds before taking nasty medicine!

    • Yuliya

    I am Russian, and yes, ice cream as well as cold water can cause sore throat. In fact, a few weeks ago I left a glass of water on the windowsill in case I woke up thursty at night, which I did and couldn’t talk for 3 days after that. I’ve lived in the States for 10 years and I still can’t drink any iced drinks (including coffee) at all. And what is wrong with square pillows? They work just as fine as the rectangular ones, right? :-)

    • Lynn D.

    Although we’re American, my husband and I almost never use ice. I’ve prepared elaborate spreads for guests, but have often forgotten to make fresh ice. Six months old ice just doesn’t cut it; I even hesitate to use it for shocking vegetables. We’re having houseguests tonight and fortunately you reminded me to make fresh ice!

    • Nilam

    I literally choked on my ice water with (crushed ice!!!) when this popped up in my reader. After coming back to the states after a few years in Europe, I found myself gawking at all the appliances at Lowe’s because of how large they were, but found myself walking up to every refrigerator and just looking at the freezer size. Since being back, I welcomed the return of the icemaker (with crush or whole option!!) with gusto. It was a lovely change after having a shoebox sized freezer. I’ve made cocktails, ice cream, frozen food and soup, and bought multiple bags of frozen fruits and vegetables, and blanched vegetables just because I had the extra ice. Enjoy your ice maker and teach your fellow Parisians a few good things about ice. =)

    also ha lol AnnaZed, probably English food or multiple curry houses.

    • Merisi in Vienna

    European capitals should be declared hardship posts! ;-)

    • Heide

    You are indeed lucky. Wish other Europeans liked ice like us icy Americans.
    When I order a non alcoholic drink in Europe. I ask for a glass filled to the
    top with ice and another, either glass of or can of my choice drink. I am
    looked at like I am crazy, but it was very hot outside that day…Besides do
    we Americans really get bothered by Europeans looking at us funny?
    No matter what we do they will look at us funny.

    • S. Wilson

    Hey, I’m a fan of your blog. One thing though: please never again in your life use the word “waitpeople”. It’s such a clumsy and unnecessary homage to political correctness.

    If you want to describe waiters and waitresses collectively and generically, please just use the word “waiters”. It’s valid for both sexes – there’s no need to go inventing words like “waitpeople”. Same goes for tribesmen, cavemen, stewards and managers (manager + manageress does not = “managpeople”). Thanks!

    • Jenny

    I am very amused by the amount of comments about ice and of course here I am adding to it.

    I am Australian and live in a sub tropics… So it’s hot and yes I like ice in my drinks, and out fridge haas an ice- maker!

    But were amazed on a holiday to the States.. That’s what we call it.. To find all the hotels we stayed in had ice makers on each floor. I know what katherine was getting at.. Most of these machine were old, very noisy and leaked water. I suspect they used a lot of power and were expensive to run. However our kids thought it was great fun.

    in Australia it’s usually the big multinational companies that serves lots of ice e.g. MacDonalds, Hungry Jacks

    I do however resent paying money for a cup of ice with only a little soft drink in it, so I often say, not too much ice!

    • Myrna

    Oh I laughed so hard at the various comments about drafts and their dangers. My German mother and all the aunts and uncles would ask constantly Ziehts? Is it drafty? I grew up in Calilfornia in the 70s’s and our car had no AC. Regardless of how hot that car got on a summer day, my mother would not let us roll down the windows for fear of the deadly draft. It could give you a stiff neck or a cold. So far no recorded deaths in the family due to a draft, but you never know :) Maybe it was Bikram yoga before its time!

    • Martha in KS

    My niece is finishing 2 yrs. in the Peace Corps in Moldova (E. of Romania) and they say that the breezes will make you ill. Reminds me of “Little House on the Prairie” where they warned about the night air. In reality, I think it was probably mosquitoes carrying diseases that made them ill.

    My new high-efficiency washer takes longer to run, but uses less water. So it’s sort-of efficient. lol

    Can’t wait to see pix of your apartment.

    • Poornima

    I thought ventilation was vital for health.!? Anyway what a funny post! Hilariously entertaining as always.

    • Kathy

    Funny about the cold phobia. My in laws went to Italy back in the 80’s and their most memorable part was about not having ice and the people FREAKING out about windows being opened in cars and houses. Funny that is seems to be around a lot of Europe!

    • French Girl in Seattle

    You should thank your readers, David. I do believe you have enough material here for a new book. Suggested title: “To ice or not to ice… That is the question!” :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    • EK

    Call me a tacky American, but after growing up in the south (humid, sticky heat every single day from April – October) and having well water for the first 23 years of my life, ice is an absolute necessity for me.

    • Victoria

    Ha, ha……so many comments and here I go adding to the list:

    1) I love the mental picture of you sitting around in polar fleece while drinking your ice filled drinks. Hey, the one counteracts the other, so everybody’s happy!

    2) I lived in Paris for six months as a student and have been back several times since. Just as recently as last week as a matter of fact. It rained a couple of days while I was there and then turned hot and humid. Being a Southern California native, I really notice any amount of humidity because our climate is so dry. I couldn’t believe the Parisians in the métro wearing coats and scarves(!!) while I was desperately trying to shed any extra clothing because I was sweating like a racehorse. How do they stand it??!! When I returned to our apartment I would immediately down about three glasses of tap water (which tastes just fine to me) and open all the windows to let a cross breeze flow through the rooms. Ahhh! Sweet relief. Then I discovered that there were two ice cube trays in the freezer. I quickly cracked those puppies open and indulged in some thirst-quenching ice water. I can happily report that I did not get sick or end up with any horrible stomach distress. I don’t fret about the lack of ice when dining out in Paris. I usually drinking wine or rosé, which comes chilled. I only use ice if I’m really hot like I just described or if I want to drink a soda…..which I rarely do. Who would want to drink a warm soda?

    3)My Italian Grandmother would never let us open any windows while we were in the car. I remember traveling to Desert Hot Springs in her car (note: the city has the word “hot” in it for a reason). She was definitely old school and would immediately chastize us if we even opened the window a small crack. She was an Italian immigrant who lived for 20 years in New Orleans, LA. She had a most unusual accent. She would tell us, “the wind boin-a my eyes!” (the wind burns my eyes) and “it will make-a you sick!” Traveling with Grandma was a real treat.

    4) The term “north American” refers to anyone living in Mexico, United States or Canada.

    5)I will join the chorus of people wanting to see pictures of your new kitchen/apartment.

    • ranchodeluxe

    Cold drinks hydrate you faster. Weird comments…

    • Isabelle Brown

    @Katherine Weaver
    ❰I am not a North American . . .
    I’m an American who’s lived on both sides of the pond. Just FYI, the proper term is “American” – not North American. We’re either southerners, northerners, or midwesterners, etc. based on which state we’re from. Though, all in all, the term “American” will always suffice.❱

    Katherine, Your post was funny, snappy but funny.

    If you are from Canada, the United States or Mexico, then yes, you are North American. Sorry, that’s a fact. However, there is no such thing as “American citizenship”. You’re a US citizen or you’re not. You’ve travelled to Europe, you’ve read what is written in your passport. “American” is not the proper term as all people from North and South America are Americans…

    Ice, anyone?

    • Yvette

    I found a used Magic Chef countertop ice machine at thrift village.
    It makes pellet ice-the best ice shape imho. I would also love to have an ice maker that
    made “ice balls” that is the second best shape, some would argue against that! Do they sell those in Europe? That might be an option instead of an ice maker in the frig itself.

    • Peter in Tokyo

    I am a big ice fan too. In Japan and Korea there is a common aversion to chilled drinks by many….`stomach colds` (???) being a concern…go figure.

    For a post-ice experience I love frozen screw drivers. Open a big zip lock bag, dump in the best fresh or package orange juice you can find/afford, add however much vodka, zip it up and pop in the freezer compartment. When frozen (will be sloppy if more alcohol is used, firmer if less), spoon out some of the slush into glasses. Quick & simple & fffffrrrrrrreeeeezing. I recall Martha Stewart suggesting freezing coffee and using the frozen blocks in iced coffee: stops the iced coffee getting watered down. Better still (hic!) pour some nice creamy Baileys over the frozen coffee cubes in a glass, or use frozen coffee instead of ice cubes in a Brown Cow (Kahlua & milk). mmmm

    • lesoleilquidanse

    I found the easiest way to get a lot of ice in Lyon was the poissonier (fishmonger). Mine gave me big bags of ice for free. He was weirded out the first time I asked, but after that he didn’t mind so much.

    • Skippy

    I tend to prefer drinks to be very hot or very cold, so I like ice. One caveat, though–ice cubes seem to make water that isn’t very good to begin with taste worse. It’s as if the cold seems to heighten the flavor. Has anyone else noticed that?

      • natasja

      LOL my boyfriend once went to a fancy restaurant in Atlanta where they had a choice of pricy waters which came with tasting notes and all…but were served over icecubes made of clorinated tapwater. And the waiter was absolutely clueless when my boyfriend tried to explain that the icecubes ruined the taste of the bottled water

    • Ruth

    David, only you could make ice hysterical. As a North American (ok, let’s say New Yorker) living in Italy for 13 years, I am used to no ice…and no air conditioning… and listening to all of the reasons why you can practically die from drinking icy drinks while sitting in air conditioning. Love the visual of you in your fleecy pants drinking icy drinks!

    I just love your writing! Thank you for giving me a laugh.

    • Tania

    I come from a Greek family (living in Australia) who always keeps iced-water in the fridge. Personally though, I prefer cool but not iced-water because I feel I can drink more of it and I don’t drink nearly enough water.

    In Australia I’ve noticed that some people have ice-making fridges and some don’t. Neither option or lack of is a big deal.

    Same in bars… some give you drinks with ice, others not. The only time I dislike ice in my drink is when I order a freshly squeezed OJ and it’s stacked with ice. I think the cafe is being stingy with their juice! I think others would agree.

    BTW, David, I marvel at the fact that you’ve made a blog entry about ice interesting.

    And I agree… where are those kitchen pics? Finished or not? Messy or not? I want to see them!!

    • S

    Funny and informative post. Ice here in the tropics is a must, so it must be such a bummer to not have ice over my Coca-cola. But maybe that’s why they have flatter bellies? Just wondering. Take care of the ice maker!:D

    • Mary J

    Ha!! Reminds me of Bill Bryson’s take on the English and ice – as though it is only available on prescription!! I am married to an Englishman here in Australia, when I ask him for some ice in my drink I get a cube! Oh, and I love my fleecy trousers too – though I only really get to use them when I visit your hemisphere in winter.

    • Kathy

    Just for fun, not for controversy: square pillows are ergonomically illogical. You can’t easily get your head on the middle (fat part) of the pillow. And another thing: what’s up with these “traversins” (bolsters) ??!!

    • Caroline

    The ice thing is so American really. I always have to say ‘NO ice’ when I am in the States otherwise I get a big glass full of ice cubes and with literally no liquid in there?! WTH is up with that? you end up paying for a drink that has literally nothing to drink in it ?! Also how can you take nice big sips if the water is ice cold? no way, super unpleasant. Here they serve cold drinks, not ice cold drinks and I really prefer it that way.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Interestingly, some places in the US are adding a “no ice” surcharge to checks – presumably because if they leave out the ice, they give you more of the beverage!

    • Stu Borken

    Paris is wonderful. Rue de Buci at St: Germain is exciting with wonderful cafe and restaurants everywhere. Yes, ice only comes in cocktails, but, so what. Poilane was a treat. Trying to dicide if I should buy a lined banetton and a bread knife. Its a short walk from the hotel.

    • Joyce

    I am a United Statezien ( Does that work to divide up the continent?) I have been living in Australia though for 22 years and find that I don’t much miss ice except for that crushed/ flaked variety which I try to source when ever I visit the country. I would love to have an ice maker of that variety in my freezer.The one that came with the freezer we have never hooked up. We run the house on rainwater and I have no idea how we would have worked that plumbing out.

    • Janet

    @lesoleilquidanse: you’re a genius. I don’t mind lack of ice when I’m drinking water, but the lack is sorry missed when I’m in cocktail-making-mode. And I’d much rather stick the white wine in a bucket of cubes than in the freezer…

    • Judith Klinger

    In Italy there are a few commonly accepted facts (note: agreement in Italy is exceptionally rare, so pay attention):
    1) ALWAYS wear a scarf around your neck. If I need to explain why, then you are probably too far gone. Open windows and drafts will kill you.

    2) Too much ice in a drink on a hot day will kill you. Every year there are newspaper articles warning us against the use of ice and citing emergency hospital admittances. I do not kid, or exaggerate. Water is meant to be drunk at an ambient temperature, so at all times, a proper host has acqua naturale and acqua gassata at both ambiente and fresca temperatures.

    We have now covered the two areas where all Italians agree.

    Mystery of life: those little plastic bags with bubbles in them that are meant to be disposable ice cube trays. How the hell are you supposed to get the ice out?

    • Mario

    I grew up in Mexico City and experienced the same aversion to drafts that you mention. In Mexico we call a draft a chiflón. My aunt would immediately close windows if there was a draft of air, warning that you could easily catch pneumonia that way. She would also warn us as children not to cross our eyes on purpose, because if a draft of air hit your face you would stay cross eyed permanently!

    • richdad

    Attn: Stu Borken – I have a bread knife purchased at Poilane. I LOVE it and it brings back great memories of my visits there every time I use it as well as allowing me to create almost translucent slices of my favorite breads.

    • Victoria

    In Eastern Europe the fear of drafts and chills translates into the lack of ice in anything. The worst things can happen to you if you sit someplace drafty. Eating something cold is bound to kill you. The older generation ascribes particularly strongly to this line of thought. So, tepid drinks in Paris don’t seem particularly strange to me. At least, if you do ask for ice, several random strangers will not start lecturing you on the dangers of such behavior.

    • Felicia

    David, it’s so funny that you commented about how bad the air gets due to no ventilation or the fear of ventilation on the metros and buses here in Paris. This is one of the main reasons why this summer I’m buying a bike to avoid all that malicious funk that rises on the metro in the summer here in Paris. I’d rather smell polluted air from cars than some wheezing man’s mildewy (this is why they need dryers in France) outfit…oh my god, the thought of being hit with bodacious B.O. ….. LOL!

    • BelleD

    Guess I’ll add my two cents to the pot:

    For those saying that lots of ice is a way for restaurants to cut cost (because they’re serving less liquid), I have to disagree. Most restaurants in the US offer FREE refills for most soft drinks. If they don’t have a soda machine, you often get soda in a can or bottle AND a glass of ice. Actually, you never ever pay for water in a restaurant in the US except if you want some of that fancy bottled water. That’s the one thing I often miss when traveling abroad – a glass of water, ice or no ice, just a simple small glass of water. I’d be really happy when waiters just bring it to the table without me pleading for it. I’ve only been to a handful of restaurants that don’t offer free refills. If they really wanted to cut costs, restaurants should stop offering free water. I was once at a restaurant that had a nicely worded notice in the menu that if you wanted water, you would have to ask. It was part of an effort to conserve water since the area (Sacramento) was in an extreme drought.
    I’m an ice-lovin’ American and there’s nothing as good as a cold, watered-down Coke on a hot day. I’ve even converted my husband to watered-down Coke. Warm soda is just disgusting. The only time I ask for water without ice is on airplanes, which are already so cold that I don’t see the need to add ice to my water.

    • Nataly

    @Isabelle Brown …. I like you!

    • Debra

    Huzzah for the ice maker!

    In Florida it is very hot and very humid. The humidity prevents you from cooling off like places that are hot and dry so the ice sure helps! You drink your Coke and then as the ice melts you drink the cold water! Two drinks for the price of one (unless you get free refills.)

    When I worked at Sea World in Florida as a teenager I remember that Germans would ask for “Sh-prite no ice” (Sprite) and the English would ask for unhomogenized milk!

    • Chrissy

    After travelling and having friends that are European, and seeing their friends come to visit I always assumed it was an economical thing. Like with soda, free refills seem to be a hugely American thing – The only place in Paris I found with free refills was the TGI Fridays (since closed) and they didn’t do them on bank holidays, strangely…

    So I just figured that when my European friends would come out with us in the states and ask for no ice they were just assuming that they were paying per drink and wanted the most drink possible. Americans don’t really seem to care if you have a glass full of ice because if you’re at a chain restaurant they’ll probably refill it 20x before you leave, anyhow. No idea that there’s actually health superstitions about it!

    • Anna

    i’m a little down on ice, it makes my teeth hurt. that’s not a great, classy excuse, but it’s always kind of a relief to me to travel to europe and not have to request no ice (i’m one of those!)

    • mahlookma

    My mother, who is Thai, once told me that I would get pregnant from drinking things with too much ice. She swore up and down that a Bangkok doctor told her so. I was 23 at the time.

    • vicki

    David, an article about “ice”??? You really are in the 1% (or less) – of those that can make an article both hilarious and informative about anything – and incite heated discussion about cultural differences and expectations. Love it! Best wishes.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    mahlookma: Ice can do that? Yikes… Oddly, someone in Greece told me the doctor told her to iron her undergarments for some reason.

    BelleD: What drives me batty in the US is when people in restaurants race around, topping up your water glass. I wish they’d wait until I finished the one I had – it seems so wasteful, of water and their energy. (But on the other hand, I keep reading restaurant reviews that criticize when service people don’t keep water glasses full, which seems kind of odd…)

    In France, by law, restaurants and cafés have to give you (tap) water if you ask for it. If you order coffee, it’s not unusual to be served a small glass of water with it.

    Interestingly, there is also a law in France that even if you are not a customer, you can go into a café and stand at the bar, and ask for a glass of water – unless there is a sign specifically stating that they don’t do that, or that there is a charge for it. I’ve only seen a sign like that once. (Water was 10 centimes.)

    Felicia: Riding a bike is a great way to get around Paris and I rarely take the stuffy métro because riding a bike is so much more pleasant. Do be careful; I was hit by a taxicab recently. I’ve been looking for a bike helmet, but there aren’t all that many to choose from in Paris. And unfortunately, most are pretty ugly. But it’s a good idea to wear one.

    Judith: I often wonder why drafts are so bad for you, but come springtime, everyone flocks to the outdoor cafés in search of fresh air and sunlight. Why not let some of that fresh air in? I was in an antique store in Paris one summer, where it was stifling hot and the door was closed. I asked the proprietor why the door was closed, and he said, “I don’t want to let the hot air in.”

    I wanted to say, “Dude, the hot air is already in.” But I didn’t.

    • Nuts about food

    This post had me laughing out loud. In Italy it is the same, no ice except when ordering cocktails… the truth is, now that I have gotten used to it I am no longer a fan of ice either, especially in large quantities, because it really waters down drinks and makes it harder to sip your drink. That being said, it really drives me nuts when they bring luke warm drinks (coke, water, beer, white wine anyone?) to the table. I can live without the ice, but I need certain drinks to be really cold.

    • Nathalie

    During summer, I’m trying to keep windows and shutter closed and opening everything as soon as the outside temperature is lower than the inside one. I think most french people are doing the same thing and open their windows after 9pm in hot summer…
    Living in New-york area, I was so shocked when I realize our rented house didn’t have real shutter and I had basically no way to block the sun (but turning AC on).

    I love Ice in my drinks but I hated buying a drink with more ice than Coffee or Coke…

    • Felicia

    Sorry to hear that you were hit but glad that you’re ok. I was just thinking about how cool everyone looks without a helmet but how horrible it would be to be in accident and suffer a concussion or worse. I have a curly afro but I’ll gladly have “helmet head” instead of a busted head any day. Thank you for reinforcing the importance of wearing a helmet. I’ll look for one in London or order one online from the States.

    • Lemon

    Lovely you enjoy your fridge offering ice cubes. I still make them the old style way, putting water into the freezer.

    • Wordbird

    On a related but kind of sideways note, back in the day tap water (and therefore ice made from it) in Europe was considered dubious and British travellers in Europe in the 70s had essentially the same advice and attitude to it as you now get when travelling in Africa and Asia – all the stuff about not drinking the water or eating ice cubes or you’re sure to fall prey to dysentery.

    • Christine

    As someone who lives in the Sud with a dorm-sized refrigerator whose freezer insists on frosting over solid once a week, I AM SO JEALOUS.

    • Becky

    The part of this post that made me laugh the hardest was about your washing machine. As an American living in Holland I agree…what the heck IS going on in there? Thanks for this great post.

    • Julie G.

    I just wanted to add that when I worked in a restaurant in New York (it was French!) my boss told me that it actually costs more to give people ice in their drinks than to just give them a full glass of the beverage with no ice. Ice makers are expensive and take a lot of electricity to run, especially in a hot kitchen, so I can understand this. So, in fact, it’s not the restaurant being “cheap”. And as another commenter said, the majority of restaurants in the States are happy to refill your soft drink at no cost.

    • Megan

    I looooooooooooooooooooooove this post. I’ve also recently quit my ice habit and am now visiting the US and find myself wishing my restaurant tap water was just room temperature. A while back however, in Zurich, I ordered a coke on a steamy day. I was feeling a bit nostalgic and nicely requested “a lot of ice….to the top of the glass alot”, to which the waitress replied “wow, that is so American”…,Sometimes ice just hits the spot. Now if only I can find a place with fountain soda in Paris for those homesick days.

    • Bronwyn

    @ Alyce Morgan, I don’t know where you got the idea that Fisher & Paykel is a German brand of appliance. They’re from New Zealand – about as far, geographically, as you can go from Germany.
    The dishdrawer (I have one) spends quite a long time with just the fan on at the end to dry things. It’s quicker if you use the “eco” cycle, although not much. The “fast” cycle is good enough for lightly soiled dishes, and it’s only 45 minutes. It also heats its own water rather than using water from the hot tap, this takes a little time too.

    • adrian

    David, I reason the other way around: Why do Americans put ice in their drinks? To my knowledge – and from the places I’ve lived and visited – this is a truly (US-)American habit.
    Personally, I think it is a waste of energy in two ways and the desired coolness from drinking an iced drink is more than short lived, the end result actually being a rise in body temp. Why not just drink from a cold tap or get a drink from the fridge? I’ve heard the body has to bring the ice or cold beverage to body temp, which in fact causes a rise in body temp. Makes sense to me.
    A iced cocktail is nothing to sneeze at though ;-)
    Cheers, Adrian

    • Ana

    Yes, yes and yes. Being Brazilian and living in Italy I have always commented how difficult it is to have ice in restaurants here.
    You ask once, and the waiter answers:”The beverage is fresh!”, and I replicate:”Yes, but I’d like to add ice!”.
    Well, 80% of the times the waiter doesn’t consider your request anymore. For 18% he will try to make you forget and you will have to ask again and…the 2% will promptly bring you ice cubes.
    …different cultures…

    • Sharyn Dimmick

    I have never liked iced drinks (too cold). The exception is the rare moment when I drink a Coke. Then I want ice in it because I adore Coke foam that forms when the Coke hits the ice. And, yes, that Coke has all of the sugar and all of the caffeine in it and is only to be drunk on a very hot day. And I am an American (North).

    • Jackie

    How Long Does Ice Cream Last?

    (Sorry – this isn’t the place for this comment but there doesn’t seem to an option to add a comment there)

    Can you clarify that the 2-4 months policy by the FDA is for home made ice cream as well as the bought stuff? The latter is full of preservatives and stabilisers whereas, as you know, the former has real fresh eggs…

    Thanks, love the site :-)

    • betty in munich

    No ice in Germany either, definitely bad for the stomach. Although when I ask how/why there is no scientific, medical or health evidence to prove it, so I think it is a wive’s tale that has perpetuated so widely it is now simply fact. I no longer put ice in water or any other drinks unless it is of course a G&T.

    • Kathleen

    In the U.S. in the late 19th century and early 20th century, refrigeration became synonymous with modernity. Home refrigerators with freezers profoundly changed people’s relationships with food. This is when Coca-Cola debuted (1880s) and also when the ice cream soda shop developed (early 1900s). So for U.S. citizens to show they were hip and “with it,” cold drinks and cold desserts became the rage. Add to this the fact that many parts of the U.S. are much hotter and way more humid than Europe during the summer, so that an icy-cold drink is considered a true relief.

    Thus, a frosty Coke brimming with ice cubes resonates with deep cultural significance for many U.S. residents. (Pour moi, not so much.)


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