September 6th, 2009

Out of Cheese Error

Words and phrases

There are always more words and phrases to learn. In the past few weeks bohemiancoast, M., a KoL fan, and rosamicula (but not all at the same time) taught me the limits and proper places for "Who'll be mum?".

In Lille, the succeeding menus, cafés, cookware, and food shops acted as glosses on each other. In one, rosamicula was quite rightly disturbed by a syrup claiming to taste of daddy's beard. The next shop explained with a large display the many merits of daddy's beard, via machines, cooking pamphlets, and ready-made containers of it: cotton candy aka candy floss aka barbe à papa.

The row of bottles had us fairly sure we remembered what "guimauve" meant, but the jam section of Carrefour was unable to confirm our working hypothesis. This is because it is not a fruit at all, and marshmallows are not standardly stocked under fruit spreads.

We did no better with my main dish at lunch. We logically assumed that anything called "La Pluma" must be a bird, even though both of us must have navigated all sorts of previous menus in our lives in which cochon was more obviously a piglet. In retrospect, it has just occurred to me that this may be as close as I'll ever get to eating a flying pig.

Finally, in a case of un-useful cognate from another language: les patatines are meaningless in French. I thought I was using the obvious word, but I'd adapted it from Italian. The café worker was baffled, because in French they are called by an adoption from a different language: "les chips", aka, for those in the UK, crisps.