Lost in Translation

I had an interesting discussion with my au pairs yesterday at our monthly meeting.  The topic of languages and slang came up and how some seemingly innocent words in one language can mean something completely different (and, in some cases, inappropriate) in another – one of the memorable examples came from my Brazilian friends and their reaction at seeing pinto beans in the grocery store; apparently pinto is not a very nice word in Brazilian Portuguese!  Please note that the topic of this post is not meant to offend anyone’s sensibilities – just to show how things get be easily misinterpreted!

I can also pull from days of teaching German.  As much as I love the German language, there are some words which can cause the average teenage boy fits of laughter.  One example came up when teaching colors and the word light, as in light blue, came up.  The German word is hell.  While we’re on the subject of colors, the color red is rot (pronounced with a long o sound).  That would be a word that was purposely mispronounced for humor.  Then, there was the word Fahrt, which actually means a trip or journey.  Finally, one I tried to avoid use of for what will become obvious reasons – the word for fat as in overweight is dick.  Enough said (or typed).

There are other German words that just cause difficulty because they are what we referred to as falsche Freunde or false friends.  They look like a recognizable word in English, but mean something completely different and lots of languages have them; most of the ones I know just happen to be German. 🙂  A couple of examples that caused my own students problems were fast (almost), bald (soon) and the verb war (was).  Another interesting one to point out is das Gift, which is poison.  That can make special occasions fun 😉

I also remember a few words from my three semesters of Russian.  As someone with a younger brother, I was always secretly amused that the Russian word for brother is брат or brat.  In Ireland, you might see the word Fir on the door to the men’s toilets; the color green in Irish is glas.

This doesn’t just occur in foreign languages either.  I have friends from Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand and even some of the words in American English differ from some of the words they use!  A quick and non-offensive example would be football. Here in America, we call that soccer.  Another example refers to part of a car.  Here in the US, we may store things in the trunk, but in British English, you would store things in the boot of the car.

I came across some other interesting examples from other languages here.

I know that there are tons of other examples and I’d like for you to share in the comments.  Just try to keep it from getting TOO graphic 😉


Since I decided today would be Corned Beef and Cabbage day in our house, I thought I might try my hand at some soda bread to go along with it.  I tried it once with my mom as part of a project in my 6th grade Social Studies class, and I don’t think it came out well – although admittedly it’s been awhile and I can’t quite remember. 🙂

Either way, I do know that it can be a bit dry if not done well, so I found this recipe when Googling on another blog that includes honey and raisins and basically just sounds delicious.  So I plan to try it and will include have included a picture of my own attempt at it.  I also snagged some tasty Irish butter on sale this week and I can imagine that will be a yummy addition…hoping it turns out well!

From bakingbites.com:

Oats and Honey Irish Soda Bread

Here's what it turned out like!

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking soda and salt.
  • Add in honey and buttermilk and stir until dough comes together.
  • Stir in raisins. Dough should be only slightly sticky, so that it is easy to knead. If it is too dry, add an additional tbsp or two of buttermilk.
  • Keeping the dough in the bowl, knead it for 1-2 minutes, turning the dough, pressing it firmly with the heel of your hand, then turning the dough and repeating.
  • Shape dough into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Flatten dough until it forms a disc about 1 – 1 1/2 inches thick.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until loaf is golden brown.
  • Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf, serves 6.

This past weekend, most of the US started observing Daylight Savings Time, which means we all moved our clocks ahead one hour, so that we have daylight longer in the evening.

This is not something done universally however. Although most of the U.S. observes this time change, there are a few states and territories that do not. For example, most of Arizona and Hawaii, as well as some of the U.S. territories do not observe DST. Parts of Canada also do not make the change. Most of Africa and Asia don’t change at all.

It also varies as to when various countries make the switch. Here in the US, we’ve extended DST to start the second Sunday of March, whereas Europe still waits until the end of the month. We also go about a week later, ending in November instead of October. Of course, for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, the dates are different too – the start and end dates for them basically flip-flop what we do up here in the north.

Why do we do this? It was thought when the whole thing originated that it would save energy, as we could make better use of daylight later into the evening, instead of really early in the morning. Although some studies disagree with that, we still “spring ahead” and “fall back.”

There are more interesting facts about DST and time zones at www.timeanddate.com, so if you like random trivia like me, it’s worth a look!

Do you “spring ahead” in your home country?  When?  What are your thoughts about the whole thing?

Today is Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day…there are lots of names for this day before Ash Wednesday.  A lot of the tradition around this day involves using up all the fat, lard, sugar, butter – you know, all that yummy, bad-for-you stuff – before fasting for Lent.

But where I come from, it’s Fasnacht Day!

I grew up in Lancaster County, PA – Amish Country.  I am not Amish, my family is not and never has been Amish (not that there’s anything wrong with that – just a common misconception :).  I do however have some Pennsylvania Dutch roots.  My mom’s grandparents grew up speaking a Pennsylvania dialect of German and both spoke English with a PA Dutch accent (and even spoke English a little funny too ;).  When I was in high school, I worked at a bakery that made and sold a lot of PA Dutch specialties and every Fasnacht day, guess what we found in the donut case?

A Fasnacht is a type of donut and it goes along with that whole tradition of using up all the lard, sugar, etc before the start of Lent.  Some folks make them with potato, some don’t.

I must admit that I have never personally attempted to make fasnachts, but I did find a recipe to share today ,which was a lot harder than I thought!  I guess that’s because a lot of people from my old neck of the woods don’t use computers.  Or electricity.  Anyway…I picked this recipe because it had relatively “normal” ingredients, i.e. no lard – I mean who doesn’t love a little lard now and then?  But really, how many people do you know who just happen to have good old-fashioned lard sitting around the house these days??  I also liked that they are called “Nana’s Fasnachts” because, well – my PA Dutch great-grandma was Nana and anything that reminds me of that fiesty little lady is okay in my book :).

Nana’s Fastnachts

Rated: rating
Submitted By: Sandy
Servings: 60
“These are similar to doughnuts but much tastier! They are usually made on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday).”
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45
degrees C)
1 teaspoon white sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, proof the yeast by adding the warm water to the yeast. Let stand 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl mix together the teaspoon of sugar and 3 cups of the flour. Stir in milk until smooth. Add proofed yeast and mix well. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.
3. Stir in beaten eggs, melted butter or margarine, one cup of sugar, salt, and enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Cover and let rise for a second time until doubled.
4. Punch down dough and divide into 2 portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough with a biscuit cutter. Make 2 slits with a sharp knife in the middle of each doughnut. Cover and let rise a third time until doubled in size.
5. Deep fat fry in oil or lard for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Rotate to ensure even cooking. Drain on brown paper bags. Toss in confectioners sugar while still warm. 


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2011 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 3/8/2011


So, happy Fasnacht Day – now go fry something!

But first, feel free to leave a comment!  Does your family or part of the world have any special day-before-Lent traditions?  Share away!

It’s Carnival Time!  In several countries around the world, Carnival is the last big party time before the religious observation of Lent.  Carnival takes place 46 days before Easter, so the dates due vary from year to year.  It was originally seen as the last big celebration before the holy and repentent time observed prior to Easter.  The most well-known Carnival celebration takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but it is also celebrated in other places, too!  Many countries do celebrate in similar ways, although the start of the Carnival period may be slightly different.

Saturday, 5 March is the start of the big party in Rio; the celebrations run all weekend through Monday, 8 March.  There are many events marking the celebration, including balls, street parties and the Samba Parade. Carnival is celebrated differently depending on the part of the country.  The huge parades and parties are huge tourism draw for the country as well.

In Germany, Karneval begins on Weiberfastnacht, which this year is today – 3 March.  It is called Karneval in the area of Germany around Köln (Cologne).  Karneval is celebrated with balls, parades and dressing up in costumes.  In southwestern Germany, the celebration is known as Fastnacht and in far southern Germany and Austria, it is known as Fasching.  In Switzerland, Basler Fasnacht doesn’t occur until after Ash Wednesday.

Of course, most Americans are familiar with the celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  Mardi Gras begins each year on Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday), so this year, that’s 8 March.  The streets of New Orleans fill with revelers and parades.  There is also the tradition of the King Cake, which comes from French and Spanish traditions that make up the Creole culture in the city.  This type of king cake is typically deep-fried, and will have some kind of little treasure or trinket hidden inside.  The cake is broken up into portions and tradition states that whoever the lucky recipient of the prize inside gets to provide the cake or host the party the following year.

There are other celebrations throughout Europe and the Americas – this is just a highlight of the most well-known.

Does your home country celebrate Carnival?  What is typical in your culture?  Leave a comment!



The Cliffs of Moher in the West of Ireland - taken by me!

Welcome to Tasty Tuesday!  Each week, I will seek out some new fun international recipe to share.  I hope this will 1). be able to bring a little taste of the world to your home and 2) keep myself updating this blog on a regular basis 🙂

Since today is the beginning of March and March is the month of St. Patrick’s Day, my first Tasty Tuesday post comes from the Emerald Isle.

I love all things Irish.  It’s a big part of my heritage.  I love the music, the language, the jaunty accent, the dancing (I wish I was graceful and coordinated enough to do a little Riverdance) and yes – the beer (their special way of making coffee is also pretty delicious 😉 ).  DH and I went on a trip there right after Christmas 2009 and that just affirmed my love even more.  It’s one of my favorite places in the whole world.

This recipe features one of those great Irish exports – Guinness beer.  Thanks, Arthur Guinness, on behalf of St. Patrick’s Day revelers everywhere for drawing up that 9,000 year lease on your brewery.  Stews featuring beef and Guinness are popular with Irish folk.  Hey, it’s cold there and this is something great to warm you up!

Beef and Guinness Stew (originally posted on IrishAbroad)
– By Margaret Johnson

• 3 cups Guinness
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• Sprig of fresh rosemary
• 2 bay leaves
• 3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into cubes
• 3 tablespoons canola oil
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 to 3 onions, peeled and sliced
• 3 stalks celery, chopped
• 3 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
• 1/2 pound white mushrooms, quartered
• 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons minced parsley


In a large glass dish, combine 1 cup of the Guinness, mustard, rosemary, and bay leaves. Add the beef cubes, stir to coat, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Drain the meat and discard the marinade. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Brown the meat in batches, 3 to 5 minutes on each side, then transfer to a large casserole dish. Add the butter to the skillet, and when it foams, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned. Add the celery and carrots and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until tender. Reduce heat to simmer, stir in the flour, and cook for 2 minutes, or until blended. Add the remaining 2 cups Guinness, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Pour the vegetables over the meat, cover, and cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally, and add a little more Guinness if the stew seems dry. Adjust seasonings and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serves 6

Éirinn go Brách!

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!  I know that’s cliche, but I hope that won’t be a trend in my posts.

I think I’ve finally figured this out.  A few months back I took part in a fantastic social media training through my job.  Unfortunately, life got in the way and I didn’t get to finish.  However, I did take away some very valuable information; I just wasn’t sure how to apply it or what to do without being too all over the place.  I pondered the idea of doing the mom blog thing, but there are so many wonderful ones out there already, I thought I’d just get lost in the crowd.  After lots (and lots!) of thought, I think I’ve finally found the direction I will go.

Recent events in my life have reawakened my passion for cultural exchange and the world around me.  Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved learning about different countries and cultures.  That interest has really shaped who I am today.  My first international  travel experience happened the summer after my freshman year in high school.  I was traveling on my own (meaning without my family), on an airplane for 23 days to Russia.  This was back in the early 90s, shortly after communism fell there, so not many Americans had been able to travel there.  To this day, that is still one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had and helped me to grow in ways I can’t begin to put into words.  Ever since that trip, I’ve been such an advocate of travel and cultural exchange.  It’s even led me down the career paths I’ve chosen – first as a foreign language teacher, now as coordinator for cultural exchange programs.

I hope that through this blog I can share my experiences, my thoughts and bring a little bit of the world to you!