Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The non-existant café culture

Living abroad gives you a new angle on your home country and its ways. When I moved to Finland, I mostly missed swedish food. When I lived in Germany I missed rye bread, the social security system and the fact that people would just visit each other by popping by, without calling beforehand. The thing is, when you live abroad for a while and then move back to your native country, you tend to have a culture shock. I experienced a really bad one when I came back to Finland six years ago almost to the day. I was quite depressed for more than six months, even though I had a lot of exciting things going for me. I still miss a lot of things. One of the biggest things is the food culture. Surely Germany isn't the most amazing country gastronomy-wise, I mean we have France, Italy and Spain. But Germany does have its ups considering food and the whole culture around it. Most people think about beer and sausages when they picture Germany, but there is so much more to it.

I miss this! (Photo borrowed.)
I really miss the café culture. I would go out with my friends - almost every day - to get a coffee and sit on the terrace just talking and enjoying. In Finland the café culture is slowly on its way, but like I said, SLOWLY. If you talk about going out to a terrace here in the summer, you're usually referring to going for a beer or a cidre. But it's not just about doing that because you're used to it. A big part of the non-existent café culture comes from the high prices. I Germany you can get a latte for 1,5-3 euros. In Finland you have to pay at least 4-6 euros for a latte. It makes a difference. If I go to the coffee shop nearby my house and I have a sandwich and a latte, I have to pay 7 euros. The same would cost 3-4 euros in Germany. There used to be this café on my way to work, where coffee and tea was half off from 8-10 in the morning. I used to go there several times a week, but then they closed down. Of course there are places in Germany where the prices are higher, but usually it's about choice. Not in Finland.

Breakfast in Finland for 7,90 euros.
Another thing that bugs me is eating out. You can't get a decent meal here in Finland for under 10 euros. Unless it's a lunch restaurant, where you're eating from a buffet. I'm missing the choice. In Germany I can go out and have a fantastic tomato soup for 3-4 euros, and go home stuffed for less than 10. I miss the mixed café culture, where places function as cafés in the daytime with food and coffee, and in the evening you go to that same place for cocktail happy hour. Cafés usually serve at least some food in addition to sandwiches and sweet things. And that for an affordable price!

A lovely street with cafés. (Photo borrowed.)

Dinner in Prague for less than 5 euros.
But it's not just that. Basically everything is more expensive here in the high north. Rent, food, hobbies, alcohol, going out. I guess the only thing that's cheap, is internet and cell phones. So what, are we encouraged to sit home and facebook all day long? I know I'm complaining, but I think we could learn a lot from central european countries when it comes to gastronomy. And yes, I almost think that the lack of café culture is reason enough to move to another country. Maybe I'll make it happen. Sooner or later. Until then I think I'll just stick to drinking tea at home.

Café crema in Sicily for a euro. Delicious!

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