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In Which the Heat Reduces Us To Juvenile Interests

Aug
9
2006

When I was mentioning foods that help Spaniards make it through the hot summer (and it has been a bit cooler here in the past few days, and I hope near you too), I forgot to include a drink that’s a Valencian specialty – horchata.
It’s a sweet, milky-looking, oddly addictive drink (it looks like the Mexican horchata you can find in parts of the U.S. but is made and tastes differently). Served nice and cold, it is a treat in the summer, but one of the best parts is explaining it to visitors. I almost always mention the drink to people who are passing through town, in case they’re interested in trying a local specialty. And then if they do try it, the conversation usually goes something like this:
“Mmm, pretty good. What’d you say it’s made of?”
“Chufa.”
“What’s that?”
“Tiger nuts.”
“?”
I was able to have this amusing (to me) conversation twice with my mother, as she apparently didn’t quite take it in the first time, so you can see how I have a lot of reasons to enjoy horchata. And I did the search thing and tiger nut apparently is the proper translation for chufa, and not just some small joke at the foreigners’ expense.
I had to wonder, because the typical accompaniment to a glass of horchata is a farton (pronounced far-tone) to dip in it. Fartones are, as my brother described them, like breadsticks made out of sweet hot dog bun bread. They don’t have the same addictiveness as horchata, but the name is a very juvenile giggle for English speakers.
There’s also a local fish called the fartet (endangered, unfortunately). You can see it at the big, new aquarium here.
So, OK, I am being juvenile. But there’s a parental responsibility side to this too – really. The other day I was cutting cheese with my kids, and we were talking about cutting the cheese, and I wondered if I should explain the cruder meaning of the cutting the cheese phrase. Because living here they’ll miss out on some of the common currency of a U.S. childhood. (If children do indeed still use that phrase.)
Is English-language bathroom humor one area my kids will be less learned about? Does it matter? Will they feel confused and left out one day when some pre-adolescent gang is laughing at who cut the cheese? Is there some TV show all their American peers are watching now, with a theme song they’ll all be singing drunkenly one day in a boozy cementing of friendship, while my sons shrug their shoulders and go get some more dip?
So maybe it’s not so bad. And in any case, any childhood lore I could pass on is sadly out of date. But while we’re on the subject, any other Saturday morning TV hounds out there want to sing the preamble to the Constitution?

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 2:18 AM | Permalink

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