Saturday, July 14, 2007

foreign food

Have you ever noticed that people pronounce things wrong on purpose sometimes, just to "fit in"? I don't know if that's the best way to put it but let me give you a couple of examples.

When I was in Manhattan, I got a Caprese wrap at an Italian sandwich shop. (Mmmm...mozzarella, basil and tomato. Mmmmmm...) The guy at the counter corrected my pronunciation - kind of rudely, I thought. I know darn well how Caprese is pronounced. Ca-pray-zay. I have fairly extensive vocal training; I know how Italian words are pronounced, even if I don't know what they mean. But after 5 years of living away from the metropolitan center of the cultural universe, I have a tendency to "Americanize" the pronunciations of things. Because let's face it, if you walked into a sandwich shop in Westwego, Louisiana, and asked for a ca-pray-zay, they'd probably look at you like you were an alien.

The funny thing is, the same thing happened at Sushiman last week. My pronunciation of "nigiri" is corrected every single time I go there. And yet I still say it wrong. Why? I don't know. For some reason I just feel silly saying it right. Maybe I'm just afraid of coming across as pretentious. There's this weird unspoken thing in American culture, where people who correctly pronounce foreign words are considered know-it-alls. And I guess I just don't want to be "that guy". I have a hard enough time asking for "ebi nigiri" as opposed to just "shrimp", and "cucumber maki" instead of "cucumber rolls".

So which is worse? To be the ignorant white person, or the pretentious prick? It's something to think about.

1 comment:

Tara said...

I don't know the answer but I do know that I hate that bitch, Giada De Laurentiis because she says mozzarella like MOZERRRRALLLLLAAAAAA. Or, parmesan like PARMIGINNNNAAAAAA.
Even though she is clearly Italian so I guess she can talk like that but she has an American accent. She just bugs me. I think it just sounds so forced when you say the word in the language it derived from. It's ok for Americans to americanize a word. We don't call Mexico, meh-he-co the way Mexicans do. No one calls us ignorant for that. Americans have so many other ways of showing their ignorance. I say let us talk the way we're comfortable with talking.