Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


Word Mystery: lunch / comida / déjeuner

Wednesdays, I explore the linguistic origins of the same word in different languages.

It’s hard for me to choose a favorite meal of the day as I basically love eating at any time. Lunch is a little bit special for me though since there are whole rituals around it if you bring your own. Because I am kind of a jerk (I am Spanish, after all), if I’m going to go through the trouble of packing something, I want it to be worth the effort and impressive-seeming, even if just to me.

Here’s a good one I whipped up recently which didn’t require any real work on my part since all I did was boil the pasta, then add some artichoke “pesto” and stuffed peppers. No skills or prep work and I got to have a lovely meal out of my totally sweet lunch bag, out of my super cute lunch container and I smiled as I chewed.

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Life is sometimes good, but lunch is pretty much always good.

EN lunch — a meal eaten in the middle of the day, typically one that is lighter or less formal than an evening meal. ORIGIN abbreviation of luncheon, this possibly an extension of obsolete lunch ‘thick piece, hunk,’ from Spanish lonja [slice].

ES comida3. Alimento que se toma al mediodía o primeras horas de la tarde. [Food eaten at midday or in the early hours of the afternoon.] ORIGIN From the verb comer [to eat], this from Latin comedĕre [eat].

FR déjeunerrepas de midi. [Midday meal.] ORIGIN Probably from Latin disjejunare [break fast].

English note: get straight the hell out! “Lunch” comes from the Spanish “slice”?! I find this super doubtful but lovelovelove the idea for reasons I don’t understand. It seems so farfetched! But if it’s true… !!!

Spanish note: if you know some Spanish, you’re not crazy. Comida is also just “food.” I find this doubling up needlessly confusing.

French note: we’ve discussed fasting in some detail before but what I don’t know is when this meal got demoted and petit déjeuner got invented.

Choosing today’s winner is causing me some trouble. Obviously, the origin for the English is the best but since it’s Spanish, who gets the win? Looking back on old posts, I feel like the modern word language gets the point, but I’m feeling like that’s a bit of a let down to la patria. Of course a Spanish Catalan guy just won the French Open, so they don’t need another win. English it is.


Alpian Way Loot

This loot came from New York via Geneva, Switzerland so I wasn’t sure what to call it. Running a search through my brain, I couldn’t come up with any good movie connections or even mildly amusing puns related to Switzerland…which is kind of Switzerland all over. Everyone’s very friendly and everything’s very clean but the place is not exciting.

Loot Swiss

  • New York Public Library tote bag 
  • Coach wrist bag  
  • 2 pairs of Smartwool socks
  • The First Year: Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed 

Things to be learned from this collection

  • One can never have enough tote bags.
  • Due to the Paris metro card’s sensitivity to magnets, I can’t carry mine in any of my bags, hence, wrist bag.
  • In the sock business, you get what you pay for. I had to throw out the four pairs I got from JCrew last autumn because they had no elastic.
  • Everything, even medical ailments, can be solved if you have the right book.

Things I’ve already learned from my book: it knows I love etymology and torturing myself!

RA book excerpt

It’s like it sees into my soul.

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My Spidey Sense

The first time I remember my Spidey Sense kicking in, I was walking around Downtown Crossing in Boston, killing time between classes. I was suddenly compelled to enter a store that wouldn’t normally interest me. It was a place that sold weird alarm clocks and consumer weather forecasters and complicated calculators. I went directly to the back of the store and came face to face with this.

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I used to collect lions and, though this was in the early days of my Felidae-fancy, I was incredibly excited by this find. I bought it on site and didn’t realize till I got home that it was also a flashlight, something I actually needed.

Since then, my Spidey Sense has pulled me down side streets, urged me to take alternate routes and accidentally introduced me to wonderful things. I trust in Spidey and will almost always follow where he leads. The sensation is what led me to discover that BK was in Paris: one day, I was walking along and, while turning my head to check for traffic, my eyes instead zeroed in on a familiar logo in the distance.

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Most recently, I was stumbling around the Haussmann / Havre area in the 9è and my Spidey Sense stopped me short in front of this window. Can you see what drew my attention?

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That’s a trick question, because what my Spidey Sense felt was that there were boxes of Oops! All Berries inside the store on the back side of this display. *I* would never have known it and may have glossed over the place entirely since it’s a kind of Urban Outfitters-wannabe that caters to teens and that’s not really my bag.

But the Oops! All Berries. I’ve never held a box that was so full of Oops! All Berries. Somehow, they had been shipped so that none of the berries were crushed, resulting in a box that felt solidly full. And when the cashier checked me out, she didn’t notice that the price in the computer was 20% less than the ticketed price. (I didn’t correct her because this was all part of Spidey’s plan.)

Moral of the story: Spider-Man is a force for good in the world. Trust in the Spidey Sense.