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Can You Smell The Dairy Air? Stereotypes, Statistics, and Milk


I recently had two French couchsurfers stay with me. I went downstairs to find the guy in the kitchen rummaging through my refrigerator. I asked him what he was looking for. He said milk. I said I don't have milk... well... just almond milk. He said to not have milk was un-American.

I don't even know what that means.

Amusements - Shows and Attractions - Aerial Acts and Airshows - Vess, Ginger - Drinking milk, Digital ID 1653504, New York Public LibraryAmusements - Shows and Attractions - Aerial Acts and Airshows - Vess, Ginger - Drinking milk, Digital ID 1653504, New York Public LibrarySo this exchange got me to thinking. Are there stereotypes of America that I am unaware of? I know from speaking to other couchsurfers that the general stereotype of an American is that of the loud, uncultured, poorly dressed tourist... but I was unaware of this whole 'milk in the fridge' stereotype.

The library carries a series of books called Culture Shock; each book explains the customs and etiquette of a certain country which could be quite helpful when you travel, as friendly gestures at home can have an opposite meaning when traveling. I looked for a book on the United States of America. I wanted to know if it's true, that I should have milk in my fridge. The library does have Culture Shock! USA but it is in Chinese and that proves problematic with my monolingual limitations.

I just couldn't let this milk in the fridge comment go, so I did a little more research. According to statistics compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Finland and Sweden are the two highest milk consuming countries per capita. For the record, France drinks more milk than the United States by a little over 6 kg a person.

That night, the two couchsurfers ate a grandma Sicilian pizza with my wife and me, and we watched the film 2 Days in Paris starring Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg.

They informed me that the film was rife with stereotypes about Parisians. I was unsympathetic.


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