Being abroad, and especially being abroad while learning a new language, pretty much automatically makes you a comedian. I feel like everytime I try to say something in Spanish, it comes out completely mangled and absurd, making everyone around die laughing. Although I guess “comedian” is a rather generous term; it’s more like being the community fool. Either way, I feel like I am a constant source of entertainment for my host family.
Here are some of the recent highlights from my adventures in trying to speak Spanish:
- While explaining to my host mom the ingredients needed for pancakes I translated baking powder as polvo de orinar. As she doubled over laughing, I realized that I said “powder of urine” instead of polvo de hornear. Such a small difference in sound, but such a large difference in meaning! I’m pretty sure all 85+ members of the extended family have heard this story at least twice…
- Tonight I was telling my host mom about the polleria (chicken restaurant) that Catie and I ate at yesterday. I got pretty sick last night, probably due to something that I ate there. Apparently it had ALL the signs of being a dirty and unreputable restaurant, but of course, the gringas were oblivious. I began telling her that we started with quinoa soup and she immediately was shocked that a polleria would sell quinoa soup (apparently this is taboo, who knows why). She asked me what kind of meat was in the soup and when I told her nonchalantly, “chicken,” she about died. Quinoa soup with chicken! Everyone knows that you eat quinoa soup with lamb or beef! NEVER chicken! Having rather positive memories of the soup, I asked her and my host sister why you can’t eat it with chicken, to which they replied,”It’s just not done!” Having established that they served us a bastardized version of one of Peru’s favorite soups, I tried to tell her that after the soup I had rotissiere chicken, thinking that there couldn’t be a problem with that; it’s what every polleria sells! But instead of saying pollo a brasas (chicken on a spit) I said “pollo abrazos” which means “chicken hugs.” Cue the laughter! I also confessed to eating the mayonaisse which apparently is a cardinal sin (and probably what made me sick). Again, everyone knows that the pollerias make the mayo with leftover rancid oil from all the french fries they make and that if you want mayo with your chicken and fries you should bring a package with you. Oh, how naive these gringas are!
- In the same discussion about restaurant cleanliness, I tried to explain to my host mom that in the US we have regular inspections and that every restaurant must display a piece of paper that says the grade they have recieved on the most recent inspection. Except that instead of saying una hoja (a sheet) of paper, I said they have to have an ojo on their wall, which means “eye.” Woops….
At least I can never take myself too seriously here!