Thursday evening, at approximately 5 pm, this brick was officially plonked down on my desk by Ole, who declared "They can't just DO that!". Ahh, but they can, and they did. Yep, the wonderful IRS has spent who knows how much money to send a ream of paper, postmarked through Auckland, New Zealand (still trying to figure that one out), all the way to cold, dark Denmark. Every sheet of paper contained in this brick is also available via the internet, which, as it turns out, is exactly how I obtained all the forms last year and filed them.
To all the US taxpayers out there that may think this is wasteful spending, rest assured, I have to send far more money back to the US than it cost to send that ream of paper to me. Apparently someone, somewhere, wants to make it very clear that: 1. they know I owe them money, and 2. they know where I live.
It appears that, for me at least, it is always the silliest little things that can lead to the most culture shock. It tends not to be the government, the schools or the taxes that make me realize it's a 'foreign' country. But rather, something so simple, and yet so foreign. In this case, silverware, or more specifically, spoons and forks, and their uses.
Growing up in the US, every basic set of silverware sold in a store, regardless of it's actual design, contained the following pieces:
For the basic everyday place setting, we used only the dinner fork, knife and teaspoon. The 'tablespoon' was better known to me as a 'soup spoon' and that was pretty much it's only purpose in life. It was the big spoon that sat in the drawer unused unless it was Campbell's soup time. Grab the ritz crackers, smash them all over the top of your soup, and then get that rare implement out of the drawer and dig in!
The desert/salad fork was used primarily for cake. Yummy! If the little fork was on the table it meant something really tasty was on it's way - hopefully chocolate, with chocolate frosting.
But then I moved to Denmark. Now, as this is the only foreign land in which I have lived, I have no idea if their version of silverware use is exclusive to Denmark, or if this is one of those European things. But, here is your basic set of silverware found in all the stores here:
Fork, Knife, Teaspoon, Tablespoon.
Attention here must be given to the teaspoon. Notice the size. Notice that little-itty-bitty speck of a spoon. Reminds me of the spoon that is given only to those learning to use silverware for the first time - the baby spoon.
But no, that is the teaspoon in Denmark, and in general, it's not on the table. They use the monstrous tablespoon as their everyday spoon. Granted, it IS called a tablespoon, so perhaps they're onto something here and if so, it pains me to admit, if we're going solely by names, they're using it correctly and Americans are not. But, but, tis just a 'name' given randomly at some point I am sure! My dear danish hubby eats his morning cereal with this particular spoon. I just can't bring myself to do it; it just seems SO huge.
On the other hand, the little-itty-bitty, can't pick up anything with it, spoon is used for dessert. And this is where logic fails me. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend eating cake with a spoon; it just sends my brain into a tizzy and confuses my taste buds. It may be okay when it comes to ice cream, however, it's so small it will take you several hours to actually eat the bowl of ice cream, and you know what that means for the ice cream - it turns into the wicked witch of the west and screams.. "I'm melting!"
It's always a fun evening at our house when we have Danish relatives for dinner; I like to confuse the hell out of them by using the typical American place setting. After all, our wedding cutlery did come from the states so... tis only natural!
And now for something completely different. When it comes to the Danes, and their love of modern design, you may end up with silverware that looks like this....
I can't begin to explain what these 3 pieces of silverware might be useful for, unless perhaps one is trying to lose weight, so I won't even try.