Loosely Translated

12

When I was in high school, I signed up to be a Rotary Exchange Student and ended up going to The Netherlands.  I say “ended up” because originally I was supposed to go to Italy.  Alas, that trip was cancelled 6 weeks before I was scheduled to leave (long story, but I would like to state for the record that it had NOTHING to do with me–Scouts honor….and before you ask, yes I was a Girl Scout, thankyouverymuch–for a whole year!).  In hindsight, it was probably for the best that I didn’t go to Italy, as I don’t think I would have moved back.  But that is just a huge sidebar that doesn’t actually have anything to do with this post other than to lament at how close I was to moving to Italy.

When I arrived in the Netherlands, I was sent to a two-week crash course Dutch camp where I lost my voice learning a lot of useful phrases like “ik weet het niet” (I don’t know), which is exceptionally useful when asked random questions like (on the first day of school) “Are you new here?”  As the year progressed, my Dutch became much more fluent and I picked up many colorful phrases and colloquialisms.  I think my favorite is “helaas, pindakaas” just because it’s just fun to say. Loosely translated, it means alas or c’est la vie (if you want to be fancy), but literally translated it means “oh well, peanut cheese” (although the Dutch would argue that pindakaas is peanut butter, but I SAY that if pinda=peanut and kaas=cheese, then pindakaas is peanut cheese).

I know what you’re thinking “why is she even telling me this?”  Well, thank you for asking.  It is because this month’s Wine Writing Challege (MWWC #32) is TRANSLATION, as selected by last month’s winner Nesli of Wi.Nes.  And to me, nothing says “translation” quite like fumbling through learning a language while living in another country for a year.


Which brings me wine…because doesn’t everything?!?  The world of wine easily has its own language and when you are new to wine, navigating it is a lot like fumbling through learning a language while living in another country.  This extends beyond just the varietals that are a mouthful to say [ahem, gewürztraminer].  There is also the methodology and just try saying oenology after a bottle or two!   But I think that it is the descriptors that can leave people a little lost in translation, if you will.

I believe this is mainly because taste is subjective and how I describe something may not be how you describe something.  For example, if you ask me to describe the 1997 Sister Creek Cabernet Blend, I would say that it was oaky, medium-to-full bodied, with a lingering cherry finish.  My BFF would say it was so dry it knitted her tongue a sweater.  Incidentally, I think this became her go-to descriptor to whether or not I would like a wine:  will it knit your tongue a sweater? Yes?  Then Sherry will love it!

Some descriptors are easy to translate: red. white. rosè. blush. fruity. sweet. vanilla. cherry.

Others might require a bit of translating/clarification, especially to those who are new to the language of wine, like the following (while I didn’t look them up, I’m sure my descriptions are fairly accurate):

  • Nose smell
  • Finish aftertaste
  • Vintner winemaker
  • Dry leaving your mouth feeling like you drank sandpaper
  • Oaky the taste of drinking tree bark
  • Tobacco tastes like smoking a cigarette, but without the gross chemicals–just the tasty wine ones!
  • Buttery as if a stick of butter was added.  Not the fake movie theatre butter, but the good stuff.  
  • Dirt drinking freshly tilled earth, but in a good way of course
  • Jammy lots of fruit flavor, like you just got smacked with a fruit pie….or jam. That’s probably a better analogy.
  • Full-bodied like a painting by Rubens
  • Earthy see Dirt.
  • Chewy you’ll need a knife and fork to drink these wines
  • Floral yes, like flowers
  • Spicy usually of the pepper variety–black pepper, bell pepper, and if you’re really want to sound snobby, white pepper (just kidding….sort of)

And then there are those extra fun descriptors that make some wine drinkers question if they actually want to drink the wine in their glass.  You know those descriptors that make you ask (hopefully to yourself and not out loud to the vintner): WTF did you put in this?!?!?!  Don’t worry, the alcohol kills all the germs! Again, I didn’t look up these exact definitions, but I’m sure they are close.

  • Leather smells like you bought a really expensive handbag, but is much tastier
  • Smoky think campfire and that annoying smoke that blows in your face regardless of where you stand
  • Knit Your Mouth A Sweater see Dry and add “very, very, very” in front of it
  • Petrol yes, like gas–so no smoking and turn off your car engine before consuming
  • Pencil Shavings don’t panic…I’m quite sure no pencils were harmed in the making of these wines
  • Wet Dog just like in real life, this is never a good descriptor and should be dumped down the drain (the wine, not the dog).  DO NOT COOK with it (the wine–and, well, also the dog). No one wants “wet dog” food–except maybe the dog.
  • Forest Floor tastes just like you are hiking in the Pacific Northwest, but without hiking or the need to travel to the Pacific Northwest
  • Botrytis a mold that smells a bit dusty and like you’re about to spend a lot of money

Finally–my personal favorite descriptor–even though I try to avoid wines with this description because they always makes me simultaneously think “how do you know what that tastes like?” and “this is why I prefer reds!”

  • Cat Pee yeah, you read that correctly. usually associated with Sauvignon Blancs Tasting Note: try to refrain from asking the vintner if it was added–chances are you don’t really want to know.

Of course, the best way to learn is to drink taste a lot.  It definitely makes translating a lot more fun*.


Cheers!

PS–Thanks to my wino friends who offered up the descriptions they use most frequently. And if I didn’t text you for that information, it’s not that I don’t love you–it’s just that I don’t think you drink enough wine.

*this easily applies to both wine and languages.



Easy as ABC…

5

Now that you have The Jackson Five playing background music in your head, I have a confession.  You know those silly/annoying emails that circulate every couple of years in which you answer questions about yourself?  Yeah, I’m one of those annoying people who not only fills them out, but sends them to nearly everyone in my email address book.  I’m a details kinda girl and I love collecting tidbits of information about people.  Who knows what you might learn about your friend that you’ve had since the 2nd grade or some great blackmail information on the annoying coworker 4 desks down?

A couple of months ago I saw a getting to know you post in the format below.  It’s been a long time since I filled one out (probably because everyone on my email list has a secret pact with each other to NEVER EVER send me another!).  Aaaaand it is different than any other that I’ve seen, so I thought I’d give it a go!

How is it different?  Why, thank you for asking: rather than answer questions, you simply list (although WARNING: I never list–I always have to explain!) 26 interesting things about you, each item starting with a letter in the alphabet.  While I’m horrible at explaining, I know that you’re brilliant and by the time you get to “A,” you’ll have it figured out!

One last thing before I begin: individuals did not make this list.  So if you are just reading this in search of your name stop right now and go back to work, uh, I meant lunch.  Don’t pout–invariably I’d leave someone out and then I have to endure years of guilt trips.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  And honestly, how am I supposed to pick between Bubba and beer?  Although, actually that’s rather easy because I’m 250% sure that Bubba (aka my brother) would agree it should be beer.

Now, back to the task at hand.

The ABCs of Shez:

A is for Addy, my darling pupcicle (you know, in case you weren’t aware that I had a darling pupcicle whom I adore!)…and before you call me out on it, yes, I broke the “No Individuals” rule, but it’s the ONLY time I promise.

B is for Beer…mmmmmm….beer (I hope you heard that in a Homer Simpson voice!).  I don’t think that needs further explanation.  Plus you should have seen it coming.

C is for coffee.  Again, no further explanation is needed, especially those who have had the “pleasure” of seeing me in the morning before coffee–it ain’t purty!

D is for dogs.  Pupcicles are special because they bring so much love and joy into our lives–in so many ways.  Of course, it ain’t all sunshine and roses, particularly when you live in NYC and have to pick up poop for a very large dog.  But they make our lives whole with their amusing antics and unconditional love.  PS–if you’re wondering how much I love dogs, I picked them over dessert!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!

E is for Eso se que es, which literally translated is confusing so I like to go with the loose translation of “it is what it is” and whenever I say it, people look at me like “did you just say socks in the middle of my rant?”  No, but yes.  Anyway, it is a reminder that life is bigger than all of us and that any time you think everything is perfectly mapped out, the Fates will take the opportunity to intervene so they can laugh at you.  Thus to keep sane, I like to remind myself of three things: eso se que es, que sera sera, and Lord give me coffee to help me change the things I can, and wine to help accept the things I can’t.

F is for FOOTBALL!

G is for Grace.  By that, I don’t mean elegance or beauty or charm.  Did I mention I was clumsy?  Well, I am.  I come by it honestly (right Auntie K??).  As such, my Ome would always call me Miss Grace (as in, I am anything but).  To this day whenever I hear the word grace, I think of my Ome.

H is for Hamburgers.  Preferably ones with cheese and bacon and avocado and served with onion rings….but any ol’ burger with cheese will do! 😉

I is for Ice cream.  And anyone who doesn’t think it should be on EVERYONE’S list is just wrong.

J is for Jigsaw puzzles.  I love to put them together–although I haven’t put one together in a long time.  Why?  Well, whenever I find one that I love and makes me want to set up a card table and put it together, I remember that I live in a house with Princess Adelaide Grace, who is so named because like me, she is anything BUT graceful…

K is for Kaas (Dutch for cheese).  I couldn’t leave cheese off the list, thankfully the Dutch helped me out a bit.  And before you accuse me of using Google Translate to find a language where cheese started with a different letter than C, I will have you know that I was a Rotary Exchange Student to The Netherlands.  How does this relate to cheese?  I used to live about 6 miles from Gouda and would go on Thursdays to the cheese market…because…how can you go wrong with a cheese market???

L is for Laughter, because it truly is the best medicine–unless you have TB or malaria or something like that, then I would highly recommend medication.

M is for Molasses cookies, my favoritest cookies in the world!

N is for Nelson, as in Willie (and Waylon and the boys).

O is for Oven–I love baking and roasting and I can go without a lot of things, but an oven ain’t one of them!

P is for Peckish.  For most people, it means slight hungry.  But I’m never slightly hungry, so when you hear me say peckish know that it means “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the rider, but I don’t want you to think me gluttonous, so I’m going to just pretend that I’m kinda hungry and then either eat all of the snacks you foolishly set out or go back for seconds and thirds when we do eat.”

Q is for quixotic, which is just fun to say…quixotic, quixotic, quixotic!

R is for reading and don’t ask me to pick a favorite book.  I’m still trying to narrow my list down to 10 so I can post it on FB (and we’ll just pretend I wasn’t tagged to do it a month ago…sorry Becca!)

S is for Shiner…and failing that, Stella (and don’t tell me it’s cheating because I’ve already listed beer…it’s MY list!)

T is for Tolkien.  You thought it would be TEXAS! didn’t you?  I just wanted to share a line in a poem in Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, which completely sums up my life:  All those who wander are not lost.  I do hope, though, that you appreciate that I was still able to work TEXAS! into the T slot 😉

U is for umbrellas.  I totally have Mary Poppins to thank for my love of umbrellas.  Ironically, I hate using them in NYC.  People here are oblivious when using them and tend to poke other people in the head, repeatedly until I feel an urge to grab the umbrella out of their hands and give them a good smack with it.  I refrain, of course, but I know that I’m one huge rainstorm away from needing bail money.

V is for vino.  What?  It’s a word.  It is in my house….and that’s all that matters.

W is for wanderlust.  The reason wine is called vino in this list.  Traveling is truly my passion.  Even more so than eating and drinking.  Luckily, I consider imbibing in the local food and drink an integral part of traveling!  I was bit by the wanderlust bug when I went to The Netherlands (see K is for Kaas) right after high school–and I have no plans to stop any time soon and “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.”

X is for Xi, which is one of my favorite words to play in Words with Friends.

Y is for Yoga, something I’ve recently started doing.  Who knew stretching and finding on your inner zen could be so draining?  Please don’t write in and tell me yoga is more than stretching and finding your inner zen.  I know it is, but when you’re watching others it looks so relaxing and graceful.  I’m here to tell you for me it is neither relaxing nor graceful, but I do enjoy blundering through class–even if I look like a bull in a china shop.

Z is for zazzy.  And yes, you have to say it like Sheldon.  And if you need further explanation, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore (if you’re worried about it, I can totally be bought with wine, beer, and cheese….but not crappy cheese–if you’re trying to bribe me, it had better be aaaaaaa-mazing cheese!).

And that’s me in a nutshell!

For the record, this was a lot more tedious than I thought it would be, so not as easy as the Jackson Five would have you believe!

Thanks for indulging me!

hey mom are you done with the stupid laptop yet?

hey momma are you done with the stupid laptop yet?