Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lost in translation

I've just had a lovely green salad with ham, green pees and beetroot ... Not something worth blogging about you may think but when what I actually wanted was a green salad with turkey, sweetcorn and roasted mushrooms I think it is.

But let me provide some context. There is a lovely little deli, just downstairs from my apartment building, called Cafe Broadway. I have already admitted to given up cooking as soon as I landed in JFK 6 months ago, so I often go there because they have a big salad bar with lots of fresh ingredients that you can pick, as well as a dizzying array of salad dressings.
The thing is that you don't physically make the salad up yourself. A lovely and helpful person behind the counter makes up the salad for you based on your specific requests.

And this is where the problem begins for me.

As lovely and helpful as the deli boys are ... they do not understand a word I say. What is puzzling is that I haven't had any problems in making myself understood anywhere in New York despite my accent - I mean this is the city that manages to pack more than 170 different nationalities in just 23 square miles!
But for some reasons, these guys just don't get me, despite my desperate pointing at the items I actually want and my (clearly poor) attempts at an American accent (you know, the whole "tomahto/tomayto" thing).

Most of the time, I persist until they get it ("on your right, now up, up a bit more and then right again") or resort to getting outside help. Like once, when the gentleman behind me, in witnessing what was happening, proceeded to "translate" everything I asked for to the deli boys ("she said broccoli").

But I was too tired today to do so. Oh well, I enjoyed it anyway.

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