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Chinese food

Words fail…


Diary of a home bird
Ciara Galvin

I’M not the best for picking up languages, even though at school I was a dab-hand at French. To this day, my brother and I can recite perfectly a piece of dialogue between Paul and
Adrienne from our primary-school French book (Paul was looking for directions to the pool by the way). But whether it was laziness or overconfidence in my ability, the grades began to go by the wayside, and as I opened the Higher Level French paper for the Leaving Cert I could only think, ‘Sacré bleu!’.
I suppose as a child you’re like a sponge, picking up everything people say. And now with my little nieces developing rapidly, I’m aware of setting a good example. I’m conscious of my Ps and Qs around the little ones, and more importantly when it comes to general conversation, my Fs.
I thought my days of requiring the dictionary were over after scraping an honour in the leaving, and I swore to myself that the only other time I would utter any French words would be choosing a fancy wine while dining out. However, I recently find myself struggling trying to comprehend the English language, or more specifically, the language of the male roomie.
With all the recent coverage of the Ice Bucket Challenge for Motor Neurone Disease, which captured people’s imaginations and Facebook feeds, even the male roomie wanted in on the action.
Two weeks back, I’d just home from work when the male roomie stated, ‘Well Ciara, I’m going to nominate you for the Ice Breaker Challenge’. After thinking about it for a second and having a giggle or two at poor Pops’ expense I said ‘Challenge accepted’.
Another day, chilling out after watching the classic that was the All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary, the male roomie asked, ‘What would be nice for dinner?’. ‘Not sure’, I said, batting the choice back to him. Dad said ‘What about a Chinese, would that be nice? What about some of that feng shui stuff?’. Now, I’m no culinary expert, nor am I an expert in all-things oriental, but I know my satay from my Szechuan. The male roomie got his gastronomy mixed up with his philosophy. Cue another fit of laughing.
According to the all-knowing Google, the practice of feng shui discusses architecture in metaphoric terms of ‘invisible forces’ that bind the universe, earth and humanity together. In English, feng shui, translates literally as ‘wind-water’. Maybe pops was dead right – maybe he wanted a seagull’s breakfast (a glass of water and a look around).
After catching my breath and wiping away the tears of laughter I guided the roomies through a menu and ensured they got something with more sustenance than water.  
But hey, haven’t we all misunderstood names for things, at one stage or another.
I once worked in a restaurant where one of my colleagues misunderstood a customer, and instead of bringing the person a small bottle of ‘bitter lemon’ for their vodka, arrived down to the table with a ‘bitta lemon’ – a slice of lemon on a side plate.
Right, I’m off to help Pops rake the garden … or was it Reiki he was on about?

> In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old still living with her parents.