Love my free water, pic: news.ucdavis.edu

So here is something I absolutely love about US restaurants and would terrible miss if we ever moved back to Europe: free tap water.  Every restaurant you go to from the fast food joint to the high end French you always get free water.  Depending on where you are it comes in a styrofoam cup or a crystal glass but it is always free and generally served without asking.

That doesn’t need to keep you from ordering your diet coke or red wine or iced tea – it is just something to quench your thirst without adding outrageous extra cost to your bill.

Little thing, you think.  It is really not.  If you ever traveled with a child (thirsty husband, etc.) through Europe and every time you went to a restaurant you get a shock when you see that a teeny weeny little bottle of mineral water or apple juice costs like 3 Euro and your son drinks the whole thing down in one big gulp and asks for more and you, who always tells him to hydrate well, can’t really now tell him to tough it out – then you know what I mean.

The prices for water and soft drinks in pretty much all of Europe border on extortion.  I remember having lunch in a restaurant in Vienna on a hot summer day.  The food was decent and amazingly affordable and still we ended up paying roughly twice of what I thought we should pay.  One glance at the receipt explained it all: the three “large drinks” (mineral water, medium size by US standards) we had cost almost as much as lunch.  I thought it was a big scam – charge me more for the food, I don’t mind paying a fair price for that but don’t lure me into the restaurant with promises of cheap food and then screw me over by doubling my bill by selling  me overpriced water.

So every time a go to a restaurant here in the US I cherish the free water (with ice, always with ice!)

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