mercredi 23 janvier 2013

Lost in translation...

I've decided to devote this blog post to pork.

Actually, I'm devoting this post to reading menus in French.

For anyone who doesn't know, Justin's and my French education has branched off into two different paths. After we completed our general classes, Justin enrolled in a class in conversation. I enrolled in a class about reading French. Justin has a broad vocabulary and excellent speaking skills, but I read very well, and usually can understand what I'm reading.

How is this related to food? Excellent question!

A large portion of my class was dedicated to....READING MENUS! Our restaurant experiences usually go like this: I explain what's on the menu. Justin orders for us (as my French has improved, I now order for myself, but Justin sometimes fills in the blanks).

For menus, anyone with an interest in cooking is rather familiar with french cooking terms for preparation. The next thing you need to know are the names of dishes (poulet, dinde, poisson, beouf, porc, etc). You would think this would be pretty easy, right?


The name of a dish can depend on the region the dish is from, the chef preparing the dish, the method of preparation, and all the other complicating factors that one never expects (like the Spanish Inquisition)...

(for anyone who doesn't get the Spanish Inquisition joke: )

While I do think I have a rather vast knowledge of food and French (I am rather fond of both), the rule of thumb I was taught in regards to menus was "if you aren't sure what it is, it is probably fish."

I have expected fish so many times, and have been so sorely disappointed so many times. :(

Moving on...for anyone who doesn't know, I do not eat pork. It is not for any health or religious reason. I simply do not like pork. I do think with an emphasis on quality and technique, pork can be very delicious. I simply would rather eat....anything else, really.

Lately, I have learned every possible term for pork in French. Why? I seem to have a problem with accidentally ordering it in restaurants. Up to Sunday, this was easily avoided. I could usually let Justin pick the pork bits out of my food. Sunday, though, I somehow managed to order a massive slab of pork roast (I'm just brilliant, aren't I?). It would be incredibly insulting to send the dish back to the kitchen purely because I fail so hard at translations (quick note on French cooking: It's incredibly rude to send any dish back to the kitchen. This should only be done in the worst of circumstances. Also, it is rude to salt your food once it has been brought to the table. Many restaurants do not have salt and pepper shakers at the table. The person who prepared your food prepared it a certain way for a reason, and it should not be tampered with. Don't like it? Don't order it. Have a food allergy? Order something else). Therefore, I ate pork. It, honestly, wasn't that bad. I convinced Justin to eat most of it (luckily I ordered a delicious side of mushrooms and rice cooked in fresh cream, yum!).

Moral of story: I am learning how to ASK if a dish has pork in it. This seems like an easier way than just hoping for the best and getting lost in translation....

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