So, a man walks into a bar and expertly orders a pint and a half of London Pride and two pints of Kronenbourg.
Bitte sehr! said the barmaid in flawless German.
Funny how my origins are still so easily detectable after more than 18 years in London.
To bad that she didn’t have time to explain herself, but I will be back…
We went to a fund raising event a few days ago. A small local affair, not one where diamond rings and pearl necklaces feature in the light of the press’ photographers. Ours was a simple locally organised affair, a quiz night with supper included, organised by and for friends. T-Shirts and sturdy boots all around.
As we walked to the venue, we marvelled at the unparalleled ability of the German language to daisy-chain words such that they still make sense. The charitable event is eine Wohltätigkeitsveranstaltung. I explained to one of the organisers that she’s now known as die Wohltätigkeitsveranstaltungsorganisatorin.
And these are just the ones which wouldn’t cause a raised eyebrow!
The Wohltätigkeitsveranstaltungseintrittsgebühr (the entrance fee to the aforementioned charitable event) might, though, and so might the official Wohltätigkeitsveranstaltungseintrittsgebührenverordnung (the legislation governing the aforementioned fees), or ….
Wonderful stuff. Almost beats supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
My German bank sent me a letter. Actually, according to their franking label, they sent a Standardbriefgut, which I can only approximate as standard letter stuff. I call it a letter.
In their letter, they inform me that they haven’t been able to process a direct debit charge to my account recently, and refer to the reason details in the following paragraph. Reason, I read there: none given.
Thank you soooo much!
I would have to give them a call to inquire, if it wasn’t for the fact that the direct debit holder had already sent a letter a whole week earlier, charging me with the outstanding payment plus a late payment fee. The request had been declined due to insufficient funds, fair enough.
Imbeciles are everywhere.
A dish of a sweet fruit soup, served cold, is known as a Kaltschale in German. It would seem that there is no English word for this.
I researched something entirely different in my trusted and beloved Larousse Gastronomique (English edition), and by pure chance, the book opened at K for Kaltschale.
Hmm, methinks, how funny is that? I actually plan to make a dish similar to a Kaltschale this very evening. (An experiment, possibly for Christmas.)
It is always nice to discover German loan words in English are not limited to warfare, such as Blitzkrieg, Haubitze and Hinterland. Kaltschale, I rejoice, and read on. Oh-oh. Allow me to quote:
Kaltschale. A Russian dessert consists of a fresh fruit salad that has been macerated in wine and is covered with a puree of red fruit (strawberry, raspberry and redcurrants). […] The word kaltschale is German, and its literal meaning is ‘cold cup.’
Russian? Fruit salad? First, they must have stolen Kaltschale from the Germans, and then got it all wrong. And they don’t have a word for it either.
I reclaim Kaltschale as a German word and a German dish. My 1950s cooking book certainly confirms by providing a large number of different Kaltschale dishes. Whether it will be part of the Christmas menu remains to be decided though.
Last week, Liz Lui described a Korean BBQ-inspired marinade, listing a quarter of a spoon of Kosher salt as one ingredient. Kosher Salt? I have seen this mentioned a few times, so I finally made my way over to Wikipedia. Allow me to quote:
“The term "kosher salt" derives from Germany and not from its being made in accordance with the guidelines for kosher foods as written in the Torah (nearly all salt is kosher, including ordinary table salt), but rather due to its use in making meats kosher. ” [^]
I can’t be sure, but believe Kosher Salt is what the Germans call Pökelsalz, salt for use in food preservation. The reference to the German expression of making meats kosher is an amusing linguistic round-trip though. Surely, the word Kosher originates in Yiddish, and probably once meant exactly that: in accordance to the rules detailed in the Torah. Used in colloquial German, the word now has the wider meaning of “OK,” “good,” “eatable.” A crook isn’t a kosher person either.
Kosher Salt. I learn something every day.
I am fascinated by the fact that, allegedly, gastronomy in our home area of Pfalz is chiefly run by cooks of Vietnamese origin (or probably more correctly of South-East Asian origin); no wonder you see so few in the streets. We ate in a typical local restaurant and learned that the local fare, cooked to perfection, is prepared by a Vietnamese cook who’s been cooking for them for 15 years. We know of other restaurants whose typical local menu is prepared by Vietnamese staff, and we heard of more.
I am wondering if any of the Vietnamese people save up and return to Vietnam at the end of a German working life. If so, will he or she then build a nice house and open a Pfälzischer Take-away? Not very likely, but surely the serving of Leberknödel, Bratwurst or Saumagen on the banks of the Mekong river would be as exotic as servings of Vietnamese food were to Germany 20 or 30 years ago. South-east Asian cuisine already includes sour pickled mustard and cabbages, making Sauerkraut not too alien altogether, and Bratkartoffel as well as Leberknödel can be prepared in a Wok, so that all seems perfectly do-able and reasonable to me.
This week, I’ve been mostly eating hearty German food. Hardly surprising, give that we were just there, in the Motherland of Sausage and Kraut:
Bratkartoffel (pan-fried potatoes) with Saumagen (a meaty large sausage encased in a pig’s stomach, sliced and baked) and Sauerkraut,
Bratkartoffel (pan-fried potatoes) with Wurstsalat (a cold salad from a Wiener-style sausage),
Bratkartoffel (pan-fried potatoes) with a trio of local sausages: Leberwurst (liver sausage), Blutwurst (black pudding) and Schwartemagen (a meaty sausage with crackling),
Bratkartoffel (pan-fried potatoes) with Leberknoedel (liver dumplings), Saumagen, Bratwurst and Sauerkraut.
Spot the common denominator!
We also ate a lot of other meat produce, such as Beef and Pork roasts, a meaty BBQ, and at least four different types of Knoedel (bread or potato dumplings) at four different occasions.
No wonder some find German a pretty difficult language to learn. Just think about it: The ocean is male â€“ Der Ozean â€“, but you can also call it das Meer, which is neutral. The sea is die See, female, unless you are referring to a lake, in which case it becomes male: Der See.
The river is male â€“Der FluÃŸ-, and so is the stream: Der Bach. Ignore for a moment that my home dialect also allows for the female stream: Die Bach. A small creak is neutral â€“Das Bächlein-.
It’s only logical, and perhaps the only thing logical here, that water itself, given its multi-gender deployment, is neutral: Das Wasser.
None of this holds when you switch to the plural of course.
Phew! I’m glad I don’t need to learn it.
Chile and Italy: 5 each.
Portugal and Germany: 3.
New Zealand and South Africa: 2 each.
Hungary and California 1 each.
These are the countries of origin of The Independent‘s list of the best 50 wines and sparkling wines for Christmas. 3 out of 50 for Germany, and only one from the Pfalz? That’s 1.5% for Germany, and 0.5% for the Pfalz.
Shame on German Wine marketing.
Outside the English spoken countries, technological development over the last four decades created linguistic havoc by forcing all those high-tech terms into the languages, or by forcing the invention of artificial words just to avoid that linguistic wash-out effect.
France is the popular example for trying to avoid such dilution by defining French words, such as le ordinateur for the computer, and some such. I don’t know for sure, but suspect that the Institute Francaise’s efforts were doomed.
Over in Germany, modern German is a terrible mix. I don’t know how this could have been avoided or better solved; inventing artificial terms isn’t likely to succeed in modern times.
Ich habe die Datei gedownloaded is outright painful. Jetzt saven und closen wir is funny, but both examples make me wonder if modern languages might be on the brink of extinction.
Surely, the Germans name Goethe, Schiller and Heinrich Böll, Günther Grass and Ludwig Thoma, and many other names and work to proof a unique and respectable culture in its own language. Nobody would dispute this, but I can’t wait to see what happens if another hundred years of English-language dominance in technological advances have passed.