What, are we Americans wimpier than Europeans?

I just got back from a pleasant lunch at a California/French restaurant, where I ordered a nice glass of wine with my meal. Halfway through lunch, I looked around, and noticed that absolutely everyone else in the joint was drinking iced tea or coke. What happened to the genteel practice of drinking wine with a meal? Are we such lightweights that the prospect of 6 ounces of rose of Cote du Rhone floors us for the rest of the afternoon? If I am eating good Italian or French food, I want wine, dammit, not some sugarwater solution laced with caffeine. The same goes for good Japanese cuisine; I’m going to want some Sapporo beer or sake with my sushi.

In the '80s I remember that folks weren’t afraid to drink a beer or wine at lunchtime. And the last time I saw Paris, I ate at a lunch place where local businessmen dined, and every table sported a carafe and wine glasses. I’m sure they were able to go on to transact business back at the office that afternoon. We Americans must be total lightweights by comparison.

Oh, where did we go wrong? When was sensual pleasure replaced by dot.com drive? At not one table near me was anyone discussing anything other than business. We Americans are certainly different in our approach to dining than Europeans. Here’s to fine eating and dining and leaving the business back at the office. Cheers.

In Europe, attitudes differ as well. In other words: how AMERICAN of you to assume all European countries are the same, you imperialist bastard! :smiley:

In Belgium, drinking a beer or a glass of wine with your lunch is pretty much accepted. Hell, it’s almost mandatory. Germany? Heh. They have special “light” beer (3% alcohol), so they can still drink their half litre mugs without getting drunk during lunch break.
In the City (London Financial district), it used to completely normal to down one or two pints of beer with your lunch. This practise has changed somewhat over recent years, although it is still accepted. It’s just that people work harder and eat their lunch quicker, if not at their desks.

Now, we come to Calvinistic Holland. It’s different here. You’re allowed to drink alcohol during lunch, but there certainly has to be a reason for it. A lunch with a client, a holiday event (Christmas lunch, that sort of thing), some other reason to celebrate. Most people don’t lunch outdoors here. Unless there’s a special reason, they use the company cafeteria. That, or they get a few rolls at a bakery and eat it at their desk. Even worse: lots of people bring their lunch to work in a lunch box. Grown men and women. It’s not a pretty sight.

Yeah, I think it has more to do with Americans’ attitudes about drinking on the job than with being lightweights - ever been to a frat party? Most bosses aren’t going to be too happy if you come back from lunch with alcohol on your breath. It’s unacceptable to show up to work drunk in any country I can think of - the difference is in America it seems to be assumed that you’ve been on a bender even if you’ve only had a glass of wine or beer with lunch; if you smell like alcohol, the mental leap is made to alcoholism or alcohol problem. That’s my take on it, anyway.

If only I didn’t drive for a living, I’d be drinking my lunch just like I do dinner. As far as your breath goes, there’s always Certs, or if you don’t want to get that minty taste in your mouth, I recommend Doritos. Especially Cool ranch flavor.

How can we break it to JBirdman12 and his friends that they aren’t fooling anybody with their Certs and Doritos, that we can STILL smell it on their breath and on their sweat?

As for the OP, I object STRONGLY to the connection made between liquor and manliness. One needn’t drink one’s lunch to prove one’s manhood.

It’s the ability to make others laugh and pass lunch through their noses that’s the true test!

FWIW, I rarely leave the office for lunch, tend to take 15 minutes or so, but if I do go out for some occasion at lunchtime, I won’t even have one drink as it leaves me sleepy and unable to work as well. Come early evening of course, it’s a different story, but that’s, well, a different story;)

Breath mints and other cover-up measures don’t work when you have a high blood alcohol content and the alcohol is coming out in noticeable quantities in your sweat and saliva, but if you only have one drink, the only way anyone will smell it is if there’s still some of it in your mouth.

Pugluvr is basing his premise on one lunch in one restaraunt?

Maybe they were drinking Long Island Iced Tea’s and Rum and Coke’s. Maybe you were the pathetic weenie in the story with you little glass of wine.

You bet!

<patting Badtz’s hand condescendingly>

Sure, if that’s what you want to think that’s fine. But it’s a nasty chance to take at some of the places where I’ve worked, like the place where my supervisor would come in in the morning stinking of fresh scotch, then would be turned against an employee because the fellow had one beer at lunch, the one meal of the day the supervisor did NOT drink. Yeah, it was a double standard, but what are you going to do?

Here’s a generalisation about European countries:
Countries where people drink wine or beer with meals (and where wine and beer are seen as accompaniments to good food rather than ways to get monstered) don’t have a big problem with binge drinking.

Personally, one unit of alcohol would be OK for me at lunchtime. Two or more would impair my performance. Like dropzone says, it’s not a chance I’d want to take. Besides, I work in the middle of the countryside. It’s half a mile to the nearest pub. (Actually, that’s not true. The nearest bar is downstairs, but I can’t drink there during the day. My office is in the top floor of a converted hotel. The hotel’s restaurant and bar are still running in the evening. However, we aren’t allowed bar drinks at lunchtime).

pugluvr, you sound just like my father. He thinks I should ‘grow up’ and start appreciating wine.

Maybe these people don’t like to drink? I don’t. The last time I had a drink was 2 years ago. I do, however, love French, Italian, and Japanese food. I think good food can be appreciated perfectly well without alcohol.

There are hints of the following in many of the preceding posts:

  1. Americans, thanks to our Puritan Heritage, consider alcohol to be inherently evil. A person taking a glass of wine or beer at lunch is suspected of using the meal as an excuse to get booze into his system.

  2. Conversely, in pre-Prohibition days, “going out for a drink” meant going to a saloon for several hours and getting pie-eyed. After all these years, some of us still have a drunk instead of a drink.

  3. Americans, thanks to our democratic ideals, see wine in particular as a snob beverage. My brother-in-law, a decent person in most respects, feels obliged to make sneering observations like “A bit of blackberry in the nose, with lashings of tobacco and dark chocolate in the finish” every time we uncork a bottle at dinnertime.

It’s like the Frenchwoman said to Dave Barry at the wine-tasting: “I think we’re more used to it over there.”

Hey, I object to Americans being considered wimps for not drinking. Especially if it’s by Europeans who drive those little toy cars! :smiley:

Really, why is everyone so focused on alcohol? I’ve never seen the real appeal of it.

Remember, too, that we’re the nation that sets the ‘drunk driving’ limits at ZERO drinks. Perhaps not in a legal sense but there is certainly a societal belief that if you’ve had any alcohol, you shouldn’t be driving.

so don’t be surprised, if we’re demonizing alcohol, that consumption goes down in public settings.

And that’s my first ever ‘smilie’. I feel so dirty.

This, at least, is something we CAN’T blame on the Puritans. Have you ever looked at how much they, and the other colonists, drank? From breakfast to finally passing out at night it was flips and punches and beer and nogs. Most was not that highly concentrated, but our forefathers maintained a mild buzz all day. I guess that, if they couldn’t fornicate, they needed something else to do.

Then, by the end of the 19th century, that mild buzz had solidified into a solid buzz sixteen hours a day. There is no way, even at the top of my form, that I could drink, on a daily basis, the average (no, I don’t have the figures handy) daily alcohol consumption of an adult American male in 1890, much less do it and STILL hold a job and function in society. There is no surprise that the temperance movement took off around then.

There is also no surprise at many of the military, social, and political decisions made over the centuries when we realize that the people in charge were in a permanent state of inebriation. The Bay of Pigs fiasco can probably be credited, in part, to the “Well, it seemed like a good idea” impaired judgement that comes from three-martini lunches.

I agree with the OP that wine and beer can complement the enjoyment of many dishes, i.e. wine with Italian and beer with Tex-Mex. However, I don’t have a Dos Equis with my enchiladas because I would get fired if the owner walked in and saw me with said beer at lunch on Wednesday.

Perhaps your fellow diners labor under similar draconian prohibitions.

Coldfire certainly summed up the London situation well – if you work in the City the question is not whether you should drink during your lunch hour but whether you should actually take the time to run to the sandwich shop next door to grab something to eat at your desk, or to have it delivered to you. [sub](And yes, I bring a packed lunch to work. So sue me.)[/sub] Mind you, after work is an entirely different story for your average City worker.

As for me, I’ve always been abstemious when it comes to alcohol, and probably consume one pint of beer and two glasses of wine in the average month. My spouse and I went to Paris last year, and hoohah, the looks we got from the waiters for not ordering wine with our meals…

On a similar subject, it’s not uncommon In England to see pregnant women drinking (wine, usually). This gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I have thus far restrained myself from committing a cultural faux pas by shouting “Are you MAD, woman?!?” at the person in question. Chacon a son gout, as the English say.

Coldy: That’s imperialist BITCH to you, thankyouverymuch!

dropzone: Hey, I don’t drink to prove my womanlihood. I knowed I was a woman the day I grew these here boobs. And I’m a medium-sized woman, at that; and still one drink doesn’t mean I’m lying under my desk for the rest of the afternoon. I drink it 'cause it tastes good with the food, not to prove some sort of stamina thing.

woodstockybird: You seem to be more on point with what I’m trying to express in my post. Here in America there seems to be that leap to “Huh, if someone has a beer with lunch that means they’re too bombed to work/they’re a drunk/they have ‘issues’”, yada yada yada. If that were the case, it means that they would also have to assume that whole nations in Europe are too snockered to function. This is not the case, and with the current practice of good American restaurants maintaining finer cellars, it seems to me a good time to get over this notion.

Tansu, I’m like you. “One unit” of alcohol at lunch is my limit, too. And, like I pointed out, it’s when I’m at good Italian, French or Japanese places that I order something to drink with my lunch. I don’t go out and order pitchers with buddies at the pub.

Sigh I guess I’ll have to get used to being the only one in the restaurant (the restaurant with the fine cellar and the 50-page wine list) to have the gall to actually drink a glass of pinot gris with her salad nicoise.

Well, I’m a XXX-Large guy, and one beer at lunch, while not leaving me under the table, can leave me a less-than-ardent employee. Plus make me sleepy (the key to staying awake is to NOT STOP DRINKING).

And, while taste is a personal thing, I could never* stand liquor of any sort while I was eating. If I want to taste partially digested grape juice I’ll belch. (This analogy doesn’t quite follow into my opinion of partially digested milk–I take my cheese old and nasty and produced by someone else, thank you.)

    • And, if you haven’t figured it out, I am a former “drinking man,” so that will color my opinions a particular way. As my daddy used to say, “There’s nothing worse than a reformed whore.” But even in the Old Daze I wouldn’t mix food and drink.