Monthly Archives: July 2008

Lost in translation…

I don’t know about you, but when I’m abroad I live in permanent fear of restaurants. As soon as you are outside of your own culture, you find yourself having to pick off a menu in a foreign language – and what you thought sounded like roast chicken might actually turn out to be some local so-called delicacy like boiled pig-snouts served with swamp cabbage.

So it was a relief when I went to a small Portuguese restaurant the other day when the waiter produced a menu all in English.

Clearly the local delicacy

Number 14: Clearly the local delicacy

And sure enough – there it was! The unwary tourist-special, lurking among the entrées.. number 14. Frigid Dog-Whelk Salad.

Now I have to admit at this point that I am not familiar with the Dog-Whelk. I have never met one. I cannot tell you whether it is more closely related to the Dog or the Whelk, nor what misfortune befell it, that it ended up in some unfortunate non-Portuguese-literate diner’s salad. Moreover, I doubt that on a first meeting with the Dog-Whelk I would have become chummy enough to have found out what was going so terribly wrong with its sex-life that it would be referred to in its after-life as the “Frigid Dog-Whelk” – no these secrets will go with it to its salady grave

Is number 21 a frog or a fish?

Is number 21 a frog or a fish?

The main courses also had their hidden dangers. Number 21, for example. Rice with Frog-Fish. Personally, my feeling is that if the Chef is uncertain whether the main ingredient is a frog or a fish, then that’s a dish I’m not going to enjoy. I was also a little worried about the Groper on space number 22. Perhaps it might have been better to put that one together with the Dog-Whelk… at least the frigidity problem might have been resolved.

No I decided to avoid the fish altogether, so I turned over to the meat section

Grilled pricks?

Grilled pricks?

Here again, the local delicacies for the unwary were lurking. At number 39: Grilled Beef Prick and at number 43: Grilled Pork Prick. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a restaurant with quite so many sexual problems on the menu (unlike the Dog-Whelk, I am at least familiar with cows and pigs – and I think I can speak for both species when I say they would class having their prick grilled as one of the most serious sexual problems they can think of).

You’re all hoping that I ordered all of the above dishes, right?

Sorry – I have to disappoint you. When it comes to odd sounding cuisine I’m a coward. In a situation like this my entire digestive system shuts down and refuses anything but a cheese and tomato omelette… or some other safe and easily identifiable food.

Definitely not a Dog-Whelk with a mating problem.

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Keeping the hoodlums at home

I have finally discovered why only intelligent and well behaved Germans travel abroad.

This week going through Düsseldorf airport looking for my departure gate, I came across the following sign

Weird sums

Weird sums

Now, as a mother of three school children I am obviously familiar with this sort of thing. Just as I’m relaxing after work, one of them will inevitably come and push a piece of paper covered in impenetrable equations under my nose and say:

“Can you help me with number 4b? I’ve got to work out the value of x.”

I now know why they teach this stuff in German schools. It’s so that your kids can find their way through airports in later life. A little further on I saw this:

Hard mathematical problem

Hard mathematical problem

This one’s obviously a bit trickier – but I can see the point of setting difficult algebraic problems in an airport situation. I mean, a nation doesn’t want its ignorant unwashed lager-louts to head off to the world’s holiday resorts and disgrace themselves does it? Clearly there is a German government plan to stop the hoodlums from flying, simply by making it impossible to solve the mathematical problem which will lead them to work out the number of their departure gate. Only well educated, intelligent Germans will represent the nation abroad, and everyone else will be under the impression that there are only nice clever Germans.

Cunning!

Now, I must dash… does anyone know which gate I’m flying from?

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Filed under Life in Germany

Reasons why I love the Germans…

OK – so they beat us at football, but they’re still useless at the penguin game. (And Stuart Hall nearly has a stroke, he’s laughing so much….)

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So… the football is over…

Germany came second. The TV signal held up for the final. But it could have all been so much worse… just imagine if Germany had played Austria in the final… with a commentary from South American ex-pat Germans…

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Filed under comedy, World War 2

Baboons, buffoons and clowns – never mix them up!

One of the great things about living outside of your own culture is that you’re never bored. On a daily basis some muddle or misunderstanding crops up which threatens to undermine your whole existence unless you solve it right this minute.

Like the other weekfor example.

As many of you know, I run my company from home… I’ve converted one of the outbuildings of our farmhouse into offices, and that’s where my colleagues and I sit. My husband also works from home, in a separate office in the barn. We all meet up regularly around the coffee machine in the kitchen.

When I was writing my book, Planet Germany, I printed off the manuscript for my husband to read – and said, “Now is your chance to get anything changed that you really object to.”

I reminded him daily for about a month. Then I said – “Right I’m sending the manuscript to the publisher on Friday – so that’s your last chance.”

Typical – he didn’t bother reading it. “It doesn’t matter,” he says. “You’ll only sell about ten copies anyway.”

But, a few months on when sales have been going really well on Amazon UK and Amazon Germany he grabs a copy and starts reading it in bed.

The other morning, he comes into the kitchen and complains: “You’ve turned me into a complete buffoon!”

Birgit (my colleague) is in the kitchen and immediately gets the wrong end of the stick.

“You English do enjoy your kinky sex games, don’t you!” she says.

I do a double take – no a triple take….my jaw hangs open… my eyes are popping…

“You what? What….how….where did that comment come from?”

“You know – the buffoon. The monkey with the red bottom. You have been playing the strict schoolmistress game or the dominatrix, yes?”

“No, no. You’re thinking of a baboon! A buffoon is more like a clown.”

“You shouldn’t have sex dressed as a clown except at karneval” she says, sniffily. And wanders off to her desk with her coffee….leaving us gawping after her….

So my husband’s angry with me and my colleague thinks I’m into kinky sex with clowns…and it’s only half past eight in the morning!

Nope – you can’t get bored in Germany…..

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Filed under comedy, Life in Germany