Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An Idiot in a Strange Land

Lately, I've been feeling like most things I say are totally ridiculous, bordering on the stupid.  I think that my problem might simply be constantly worrying about how I'm being interpreted, culturally speaking.  Am I too "American"?  Am I, like Goldilock's porridge, "just right"?

Speaking of porridge, I found out the hard way that the English seem to get by in the kitchen without the help of a double boiler, or porridger.  Or, as they also say here, bain marie.  Oui mais non.  Why have the term--in two effin languages--yet not the product?  Comment dit-on "confusing"?  I gave up almost all of my rather inexpensive cooking gear before packing up for parts unknown thinking that I could easily replenish my kitchen stock here in London.  I've succeeded in finding most pots and pans, but, for the life of me, not a double boiler. 

Last week, or so, I popped into a neighborhood cookery shop, as they say here, to inquire after a sales position advertised in the shop window.  (And, no, they don't carry porridgers.)  I've been working, and, therefore, applying for jobs for the past twenty years.  I have, actually, figured out what potential employers want to hear.  However, in the cookery shop that day I said something totally foolish.

It was this: is one allowed to bring a book in?

What the fuck was that?  The genie was already out of the bottle, so I let it hang in the air knowing that I'd probably just fucked it all up.  The owner was quick to go on at length about how there's much to do what with dusting products, unpacking deliveries, and the like.  Ugh.  I had failed this very mini test.

The next day, resolved to reversing my fortune, I went into the shop to apologize for saying such a daft thing.  I said something to the effect of this: I just want to apologize for a comment I made yesterday about book reading.  I want you to know that I'm not a laze-about book reader.  I'm here to work!

My apology went over well and I got the job.  Today, I went in to train with the other woman who works at the shop.  As I entered the store, she looked up from her book and gave me a warm greeting.


  1. Giggle. Nice post.

    "Ummm, I meant books about pots. Is one allowed to bring in books about pots? For umm, pot reading."

  2. The best I can say here is LOL...

  3. Haha! I've trying to get a job for a while and I think every time I have had that one misspoken line that screw the whole process up. Some of them I have no idea how I didn't get them i.e. a job at a grocery store.
    Congrats on getting a job, especially one that supports reading!

  4. @Cori: pot reading! That's probably wrong,too.
    @IJrdn: I'm glad that you found it funny!
    @Sydney: it's just that one phrase that can hang you during an interview! -totally sucks. Oh, and, as long as the boss isn't around, then reading is fine.

  5. Good for you for going back and congratulations on the job!

  6. @Michelle: yeah, I'm glad that I went back, and, with employment, I now have oodles more to write about!

  7. As for bain-maries, can't you just put a small saucepan inside a larger pan of simmering water? I didn't know they were called porridgers - do you make porridge in them?

  8. @Sarah: I guess that you do make porridge in them although I've never tried. I've only ever melted chocolate chips in them in order to make chocolate tofu pie. The pie, by the way, is very tasty! I've tried putting both small pot and bowl inside larger pot, but I usually wind up steaming the heck out of my thumb. Oi vey.


A piece of your mind here: