As I settle in to life in Zürich I thought it might be a fun to start a blog series about the little things here that are different from my former life in Seattle. So far, I’ve found new favorites and frustrations, but nothing that I cannot learn to appreciate, or at least adjust to, eventually.
Adventure #1 – Living without a microwave. I’ve never been a huge microwave user, but there are several select activities that I find a microwave particularly useful for: (1) softening butter for baking; (2) reheating leftovers; (3) warming milk for hot drinks; and (4) cooking the occasional Amy’s enchiladas dinner or chocolate mousse treat.
When Martin and I started settling into our new kitchen, we decided to try going without a microwave. Though we have a lot of counter space for Swiss kitchen, neither of us wanted to see it cluttered with a bulky 200CHF microwave that would only get limited use. (We have looked at microwaves here and I have yet to find one as simple and small as I would prefer.) I think I am still wishing that I had stolen my friend Kara’s adorable blue mini microwave from our Walla Walla days. I guess you could say it was as much a design decision as an eating adjustment, at least for me. Martin claims to prefer cold leftovers.
Now I understand this is not a lifestyle adjustment like one that would we make if we moved to any third world country, but it is interesting to consider the things and processes that are so routine in America that we don’t even think about it. Microwaves are just less common in the home here. I’m not sure what this means–do the Swiss eat fewer leftovers (or just cold leftovers)?
Here in Zürich I am almost always home for lunch, but with Martin around we don’t have leftovers that often. When we do, I’ve gotten more accustomed to cold leftovers (or at least waiting a ridiculously long time for the oven to slightly warm my food). But, I have not yet found a good solution for softening butter in a hurry, at least without full-on melting. But, at least I’ve got glorious steam-warmed milk now . . . no microwave required
Asset #1 – Nespresso machine. The Swiss have a strong appreciation for the mid-morning coffee break, and the perfectly frothed cappuccino. Coffee culture here is quite different here than in America. While Starbucks just celebrated its 10 year Swiss anniversary, most coffee in Switzerland still is enjoyed one of three ways: (1) Italian-style–as in a quick trip to a coffee bar where you order, drink your latte macchiatto without lingering, and head back to work. Sometime in the mid 1980s they were captivated by the Swiss-made Nespresso machine, a pod-based machine that spills out coffee and espresso with the just the push of a button.
Martin and I picked up our Delonghi Lattissima in February and since then we’ve both found favorite drinks and blends. I love the milk frother’s automatic latte macchiato setting and I am just starting to appreciate the cup warmer on the top of the machine. Martin enjoys the hot water dispenser and the occasional decaf espresso or cappuccino. I also find the rainbow of capsules make me smile in the morning, especially when I’m reminded that we saved 8CHF by not going to Starbucks. I’m enjoying experimenting with new drinks, and Starbucks has become a special treat again, at least in Switzerland.
Annoyance #1 – Wood & white tile floors. I’ve always wanted to live in a place with more natural wood flooring. Now that I have it, along with white tiled floors (and walls in the bathrooms), my inherited cleaning OCD (thanks Mom!) is a little frustrated by the ever-present dust bunnies, bread crumbs, and carpet fuzz tracked in from the bedroom carpets. No matter how much I vacuum, swiffer, and mop I still see more to clean. Martin says I should be thankful that I see the dust to vacuum instead of just having it dirty the carpets invisibly, but I’m still not totally convinced. But once we have a few more rugs, I’ll leave my slippers in the bedroom and enjoy the cool feel of my clean-as-could-be wood floors.