As an Irish American and a coffee drinker, I sometimes get asked about Irish coffee cream, and whether it is actually Irish. I don’t really know how to answer this, because I don’t really understand the question, and most of the time, I don’t believe that those who are asking understand it, either.
For instance, I will ask if they mean that Irish coffee cream is actually from Ireland or made with Irish ingredients, whatever those may be. Most of the time when I ask those questions, I will get a, “Well, you know what I mean.”
The truth of the matter is that I don’t know what they mean, and what is more, I don’t know a whole lot about Irish coffee cream in the first place. I have always preferred amaretto or hazelnut flavored coffee cream to other kinds.
I began to realize two things. First, it seemed as though people automatically assumed that because I am an Irish American, I must know all about Irish coffee cream. The second thing was that they probably didn’t mean anything by it, but were just trying to make conversation, and that maybe I should stop being so sensitive about the issue.
One of my favorite encounters, after all, and a story that I love to tell whenever the right opportunity presents itself, is of a woman who once told me, “You know, I like Lucky Charms cereal, but you must really like it!” I just about died laughing when she said that, and I decided to take the same sort of attitude when it came to Irish coffee cream.
I would make up stories about its origins and say that it came from Irish cows that were cared for by leprechauns and only grazed in pastures of four-leaf clovers. Usually, people would realize very quickly that I was teasing them, and hopefully that their question about Irish coffee cream was silly, and that would be the end of it for a while.
I don’t believe that stereotypes are funny, and they can be downright hurtful. I also don’t believe, however, that the best way to deal with stereotypes is to be angry about them all the time. I really believe that you are clever enough when somebody is making an assumption about you, you can defuse the situation and make the person realize what they are doing without creating a scene.
I honestly don’t know that much about Irish coffee cream. I have had it before, I thought that it was OK, and then went back to the other kinds that I prefer. I think the next time I am asked about it, I will just be honest and say that it is not one of my favorites, but some people like it a lot.