Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Crocodile eggs for lunch

Do you ever look at food and wonder what the hell ever compelled someone to eat it the first time? Avocados are like that for me. They look like crocodile-skin eggs or freaky space rocks but someone somewhere decided it would be good to ingest one. I imagine that the person came upon a split open avocado on the ground and was drawn in by its color (“Oh pretty! Put in mouth!”) and the world rejoiced, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re still totally weird-looking.

Here’s one I had for lunch recently with my beloved Thai meatballs with hoisin sauce and risotto done up Japanese style with my rice seasoning.

Avocado lunch

Related-in-my-mind things

→ When I was first wandering around Barcelona one of the things that made me think that maybe I’d made a huge mistake was seeing all the signs were in català, a language I did not speak. I feared I also wouldn’t understand the people since many, many, many signs were for Avocado Buffets [buffet d’avocat] which seemed insane to me. Who needed to eat so many avocados? Turns out that not a one of them specialized in tropical fruits — they offered legal services. Buffet : firm, avocat : lawyer (personal advocate).

→ On “Call The Midwife,” a BBC series set in 1950s London, one episode featured the characters saying “avocado pear” over and over and me double-blinking every time because that sounds ridiculous.

→ Technically, avocados and lemons are berries. This last thing I learned over the weekend in the charming Danish older person romance Den skaldede frisør (:”The Bald Hairdresser,” “Love Is All You Need” English title.). Mark Kermode said it was like “Dogme does ‘Mamma Mia!'” which was mixed praise. I’m a fan of the Dogme 95 movement, but “Mamma Mia!” is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. However, it also stars Pierce Brosnan (I will watch anything a James Bond has been in) and Kermode said it’s “really rather good and really rather charming” he was right (as usual).


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Queso cheese, please!

There is a really bad Tex-Mex restaurant in DC called the Austin Grill that my boss would sometimes take the staff to after work. I hated going, partly because I wasn’t fond of spending additional time with my coworkers, but also because the place insulted my intelligence and my taste buds.

As an example, on one visit, the waiter told us about the specials of the day, including something that came with “queso cheese sauce.” I was perplexed. “Is that double cheese sauce?” I asked. “No, it’s queso cheese.” “But queso is cheese,” I said. “It’s Spanish… for cheese.” He didn’t get what I was saying and I realized that continuing this Abbott and Costello farce wasn’t going anywhere.

I thought of this prime example of idiocy when I read about fossils being found in the La Brea tar pits in LA. It wasn’t till I was living in Spain that I realized that this holdover from the time of the dinosaurs is laden with linguistic problems.

  • The La — an obvious redundancy, but much like “the hoi polloi” where “hoi” is Greek for “the,” repeated use has trumped syntax
  • Brea tar — “brea” is Spanish… for “tar” so here we have another redundancy

What we’re left with is the equivalent of, say, New New York City City. It’s ridiculous.