From August 2000 through July 2001, I was an au pair in Switzerland. Of all the things I needed to acclimate myself to from climate to air quality to utilitarian bedrooms to amazing bathrooms, the most strange and wonderful was bubbly water. Most Americans, in my experience, don't have the interest or appreciation for seltzer water. I think our palates are accustomed to the pairing of syrupy sweet with anything bubbly. But Europeans on the whole tend to prefer seltzer water, or in the Swiss German region, mineral wasser. You can get plain ol' water if you ask for "still wasser" but the default is to always fill your glass with or provide you with a bottle of mineral wasser.
It was a difficult transition to make when I first moved into my Swiss home away from home. Sure, I had Pellegrino or Perrier now and then, but I rarely finished a bottle and never was it for hydration purposes. I think most people would agree that we drink that stuff to look fancy. When I worked at Trader Joe's, we sold Gerolsteiner which is a relatively common brand of mineral water from Germany. I did an experiment with it one week in which I dedicated myself to drinking a case, or 12 1-liter glass bottles, of Gerolsteiner to see how I felt, because mineral water is supposed to have therapeutic properties. At the conclusion of my experiment, I spent $12.50 and I felt FABULOUS. Mineral wasser consumption in Switzerland is not for fancifying purposes, however. And most people have something like the Soda Stream to create their own carbonated water at home rather than using an excess of glass or plastic.
I was d-e-lighted to find that Soda Stream distributes in the States, and I'm considering incorporating it into my daily life. I really do love carbonated water as it is both refreshing and hydrating. Making it at home is also a cost-cutting, waste-sparing and Earth-loving endeavor, as Soda Stream uses no batteries and all the products are reused or recycled. Soda Stream also offers a series of flavorings and syrups to add to your water so that you can make soda and seltzery fruit beverages at home. Check out their site for more information. I can't wait to get my own!