Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spanish is easy, as long as you don’t mind the occasional gaffe…

Since Monday was a holiday and Tuesday is Iris’s birthday, Olmi and I spent yesterday afternoon baking a birthday cake for Iris. Most of the women around here don’t have ovens, which seemed strange to me initially since I’d never even considered having a kitchen without an oven. But, they all have gas ranges in their inside kitchens, and wood hearths in their outside kitchens. Because it’s frequently so hot, most of the women around here use their wood hearths far more than they use their inside ranges, and they can cook and bake almost anything on a hearth, moving pots and burning wood around to get the right temperature in the right place for whatever is cooking. They make great bread on the wood hearths, but have found that cakes are just a little too delicate, which is why Olmi talked to me about making the birthday cake here.

Yesterday turned into a very rainy day, so as we were waiting for the cake to bake and talking, I remarked to Olmi that it was a good day for baking…or at least that’s what I thought I said until she started to giggle. Olmi is as seriously trying to learn English as I am to learn Spanish, so she usually quietly corrects my mistakes and doesn’t laugh. But even I had to laugh when she explained what I’d said.

“To bake” in Spanish is “hornear” with a silent “h.” What I said was that it was a good day for “orinar,” which, in Spanish, means “to urinate.” So, instead of saying “It’s a good day to bake,” I said “It’s a good day to pee,” which Olmi explained through her giggles, and then had me practice saying the two words slowly after her to make sure I understood. I got it, eventually, and I’ll try not to make that mistake again!

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