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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

For about the past five years, I’ve been pussyfooting around the idea of becoming a vegetarian. From an ethical, environmental, and health point of view, I think most of us could do with eating a lot less meat; however, my meat tooth has kept me from ever being able to completely let go.

Corazon de Pollo

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A word that some of you may be familiar with is Engrish — humorous mistranslations into English from East Asian languages. The word of course comes from the way speakers of such languages allegedly are not able  to differentiate between /l/ and /r/ sounds. The following, from the menu of Kam Ho, a Chinese restaurant across the street from my office, got me wondering if there’s such a word for when this happens in French instead of English:

A pricey meal, at current exchange rates.

The English of course is problematic — corn source instead of corn sauce — but hardly worse than what you’d find at many a Chinese restaurant across North America. The French translation, however, tries for crème de maïs (cream of corn), but instead gives us crème de mains: hand cream. Needless to say, that makes for one unappetizing breaded fish filet.

So, what might one call such a linguistic transgression? One possibility is Flench, transposing l and r of French in the same way one forms Engrish. Nice and succinct, and kind of sounds like flense, one of my favourite words. Unfortunately, a quick trip to urbandictionary.com informs me that Flench can denote “the face one makes while passing gas” — a portmanteau of fart and clench. No matter, though — I’m claiming it here and let’s see which meaning wins out!

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Lentils

When I was a child, I would derisively refer to lentils as “sand pellets” – the exterior was like a hard plastic pod, and the interior was grainy like, well, sand. For that reason I had not bought or made them as an adult. However, I wasn’t done with them for good. You see, one of the perks of my current apartment is that it is full of foodstuffs that my friends Geoff and Kristina left me when they moved out.

The Bad: amorphous wad of beef that was long past its sell-by date before it was ever put into the freezer. One of those things that you have to chuck at the right time of the week lest it stink up your garbage.

The Good: Good old-fashioned Quebec maple syrup; more spices than I knew existed; a jar of duck fat; nine different bottles of vinegar; and many more.

And, yes, there were some green lentils. I was resigned to the idea that they belonged in the former category, but since they would have taken quite a while to go bad, I couldn’t justify throwing them out and begrudgingly set out to prepare them.

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On Nut Butters

As a follow-up to my recent post on Cashew Butter, take a look at what The Onion has to say on the matter.

I sometimes feel that every event in my life has an appropriate Simpsons quote or reference to an Onion item. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

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Cashew Shrimp

I will occasionally post about food here. Be warned that it will not be along the lines of “I got this great recipe from the Joy of Cooking/some other blog/The Barefoot Naked Iron Ace of Chefs Show and I followed it to the letter and by golly it turned out great and here are some pretty pictures!” Rather, I expect it to be about 80% “there’s a reason people don’t cook like this” and 20% “you wouldn’t think that this would work, but it actually sorta does”.

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My mom and I will be spending two weeks in Moscow in June, staying at the Cosmos Hotel. Their website has been designed by someone who clearly is familiar with English yet is not quite ‘there’:

For when you’re feeling down.

I am incredibly bemused at the thought of this little critter sidling up to me in the dining room of some mysterious hotel and saying “looking good, Mr. M.!”.

This being said, I am resisting the urge to turn this blog into an annotated version of sites such as Engrish.com. If you’re unaware, it’s a compendium of highly witty and/or nonsensical mistranslations into English from around the world, mostly East Asia. Here’s a typical entry:

Anyone want to translate the Japanese?

Do I find such sites offensive? No. Should I? Possibly, but that’s a debate for another time. Do I find them funny? Oh yes. But I don’t want to imitate them.

I would also soon get out of my depths if I tried to perform genuine  scholarly analysis on this kind of thing — I am not a professional linguist, nor do I speak any non-European languages. If that’s what you’re looking for, Language Log has some very in-depth and enlightened discussions on such matters.

This is not to say that I will not post such comically-worded things from time to time; I simply want to keep this place from becoming a repository of posts on the theme “look-at-silly-foreigners-stumble-with-English”.

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