Nobody knows what cream is any more

Jackie started noticing some years ago that waiters seemed not to understand that cream is an actual, specific thing. Waiters would offer her cream for her coffee, and then bring some industrial concoction of water, corn syrup, tropical oils, and mono- and di- glycerides (sometimes including some milk solids).

She learned to ask for milk instead, because even waiters seem to understand that milk is an actual, specific thing.

This week, for the first time, we observed the reverse. The waiter offered to bring “creamer,” so Jackie said she’d drink her coffee black. I’m new enough to drinking coffee that I’ve never had creamer, so I figured I’d give it a try and said, “Sure, bring some creamer.”

The waiter brought actual cream.

I can see restaurant owners urging waiters to offer cream when what they’re bringing is some much cheaper substitute, the same way they tell waiters to claim that the vegetables are fresh when they’re actually frozen. But no one would think it made sense to offer some cheap substitute and then bring the real thing.

The only explanation I can think of is that people these days don’t know what cream is. And I guess that makes sense. When my parents were kids, people still got unhomogenized milk, where the cream would literally rise to the top, so they knew it was an actual, specific thing. But we’re now two generations removed from that. Plenty of time for people to forget what cream is.