Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I have this (fairly) funny butter issue with the young lady who runs the German Cafe in my office block. I have lunch there two or three times a week. It's not very adventurous of me, but it's convenient and I like a hearty bowl of soup - and you also get a really good mixed grain or muesli roll thrown in... although they're a bit dry, hence the need for butter. So sometimes she has butter, for which I'm charged an extra 1 yuan (10p), sometimes she doesn't. Of late it's been a Lurpak, Anchor & Kerrygold free zone. So today I brought my own butter in - filched yesterday from another cafe (where obviously butter wasn't a problem). The look she gave me: it encompassed so many signals within the space of a second: Why do westerners eat so much butter? How could you possibly bring in your own? Why do you force me to lose face? Whereupon, she produced a slab of the stuff and, with an exaggerated flourish of the knife, deposited two portions on my plate. I handed over my 30 yuan for the soup... A pause... Ah yes, and that all-important extra 1 yuan. The soup - courgette & noodles - was delicious. The butter? Worth all the cross-cultural angst.

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