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International Coffees [Monday 13 Apr 2009 at 08:18 pm]
Owen
I went out for coffee with some friends. Some of them were German and some Mexican. We all sat down with our coffees, which were really milkshakes as is the custom nowadays. Well, they all sat down with coffees. If I'm going to have a sinful snack, I'm going to eat cake instead of coffee so I picked a nice slice of carrot cake.

We started trying to talk but quickly noticed that all but one of us spoke English and all but one of us spoke German and all but one of us spoke Spanish. Yup, another language barrier situation. Four bilingual and trilingual people couldn't get it together to agree on one language.

With patience we managed to get along fine. But each one of us had to do a little translating from time to time. Translating is really much harder than simple bilingualism.

We did hit a rocky reef of misunderstanding once we entered on traditional cooking. Sometimes there simply aren't words and especially aren't words I know to describe traditional Mexican and German food ingredients in English. I told a story about traditional Indian cooking to break the tension -- that way nobody understood the exact foods involved, including me.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: bluekaty
Tuesday 14 Apr 2009 at 01:36 pm (UTC)
Food stuff is untranslatable by definition I think, once I translated a recipe book of cakes from English into Italian and translating all the different types of cream they have in England was a nightmare (and a lot of fun too...)
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[User Picture]From: owenthurman
Wednesday 15 Apr 2009 at 01:25 am (UTC)
It must have been fun if you got to try all the creams. That actually came up yesterday. Mexico and Germany have different sets of creams (neither as elaborate as England's but both good). Translating recipes requires the ability to mix up imitations of the other's cream.
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[User Picture]From: zanthinegirl
Tuesday 14 Apr 2009 at 03:17 pm (UTC)
Language follies! I have a good friend who's Romanian, and we tried to cook together once. It was a hoot; her english is fluent but turns out not to cover cooking terms!


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[User Picture]From: owenthurman
Wednesday 15 Apr 2009 at 01:29 am (UTC)
I'm still not sure what all the German recipes were (I don't speak much German) but the story of the attempt to render authentic chilaquiles with German ingredients was hilarious.
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