Especially when you travel, conversations take unexpected turns.
What is a churro? If the image that came to mind was a fried stick of dough sprinkled with cinnamon sugar that you purchase at a carnival, not to be rude, but you’re wrong. A churro is a wonderfully delectable treat served for meriendas (snack time) in Spain. Yes, it is fried dough, but depending on the region, it comes in varying shapes and sizes and is lovingly saturated in hot oil until it is crisp perfection. However, what makes a Spanish churro so much more than carnival fare, is that in Spain they are always, always served with a velvety cup of dipping chocolate on the side.
I know this now, but when I had first moved to Spain, I had had no idea that it was even possible to create a treat so good and use it as an excuse for snack time. So when my friends asked me if I wanted to drive 40 minutes to a small town just outside of Alicante to wait in line for a piece of fried dough I looked at them like their heads had been screwed on backwards. However, because I tend to throw caution to the wind in favor of trying something new, I decided to go along for the ride.
Not much later, six of us had been arranged in a car, that by American standards was suited for four people at best, and off we went. (To spare you the uninteresting and rather hot journey, suffice it to say that we arrived safely with no fines and no worse for wear.)
“Coño!” my friend Jorge yelped as he saw the line wrapping around the little shack that was nestled in the middle of the campo. I couldn’t help but agree. I was literally standing in the middle of the granja under the blazing Spanish sun for what exactly? I didn’t know.
With no other options and nothing else to do, we found our way into line and got comfortable. While we were chatting, my friend turned around and asked me, “Oyé, que significa ‘coño’ en inglés?” (Hey, what does ‘coño’ mean in English). Well, if you know what that means, you can imagine my hesitation in translating that word. For those of you who don’t know it means C*&! in English.
After thinking about it for several seconds I translated the word for him. Immediately he turned around and bellowed C*&! out into the crowd. Ok, yes we were at a shack in the middle of the Spanish campo, and it was highly unlikely that there were English speakers around, but you never know.
My mouth dried out and dropped open in horror. I was fully unprepared to hear one of the most jarring words in the English languages screamed casually at an audience. Jorge just looked at me curiously. “Qué es el problema? Uso esa palabra todo el tiempo.”
“Yes, I know you do,” I responded, “but it’s different in English.” I then spent the rest of the time that we were in line explaining to my friends why we didn’t use this word casually as an explicative. Why did it take so long? Because actually I have no early idea why it’s so awful and no good explanation as to why we don’t use this word other than it just sounds bad.
By the time we had gotten our churros, I hadn’t convinced anyone that this word was any worse than coño. But you know what? I had chocolate and it was doing an incredibly successful job of washing away the bad taste in my mouth left by that word.
Seriously, que coño era esa alimentación?! It was so good that I was forced to use the exact word I had spent the last half and hour convincing others was an unacceptable sound to utter. Exclaiming Coño and enjoying chocolate just seem go together – I mean, I have to admit, it’s a really great expression. Just search it on Twitter, you’ll see.
No sé quién coño está haciendo una tarta de chocolate cerca de mí pero que cierre la ventana que vengo del gimnasio gracias. 🙅
— ;destruction (@elenadelevingne) July 14, 2016
Oh well, I suppose I will just have to settle with the fact that life is full of contradictions and surprises.
So although I had gone on an adventure for a sweet treat, I came back having eaten one of the most sublime desserts of my life and a life lesson. Like I say, I’m always up for an adventure. To quote Forrest Gump, “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
Has anyone else ever had a strange linguistic incident in an inappropriate setting? Let me know, I’d love to hear!