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Mar 04 2006

Open Letter To American Servers In “European” Bistros

niçoise salad at that joint next to Vespaio
Niçoise salad at that little psuedo-Italian joint that suddenly bubbled up out of Vespaio on South Congress

The word is not pronounced “niss-wah.”

See that S ? Go ahead. Say it. Say the S. Say it, I beg you, just once before I die!

Neeswahz! Nee-swahz!

Of course, French words are not like your reproductive rights. You have a choice in the matter. Even in South Dakota, as far as I know, you may pronounce them correctly or not, according to your whim. You are free, when speaking the word Niçoise, to say “salrtkwiog!” for all I care. But should you elect not to enunciate the S — and I have never encountered a server who has — kindly refrain from looking at me like I’m some kind of waste product when I do. You are no French waiter, honey. You are dating a drunken musician from Houston.

The S-thing goes for Vichyssoise, too.

Speaking of which, it may interest you to know that Vichyssoise is not some glorious old tradition originating hundreds of years ago in Vichy. An unlikely delicacy, cold potato soup was in fact invented at the Ritz in New York in 1917 by a French chef who purloined an old recipe from his maman, added an artery-mocking measure of heavy cream, threw it in the fridge overnight, gesticulated a little too excitedly with raised pinkies the next morning, and declared, “Show me the money, American rubes!

If you were wondering, the Niçoise salad at the-little-café-spawned-by-Vespaio, the name of which I can never remember, was a decent enough plate with all Niçoisian elements present, albeit in distressingly modest quantities. I mean, I’m all for portion control, but there were like 4 green beans. And you see those tomatoes? Delicious, but tiny? I’ve had bigger warts removed.

A depressing footnote: the hard-boiled egg (you can just barely make it out in the top left corner) was uncooked in the middle, which detracted somewhat from its hard-boiledness. I believe I can say without fear of contradiction that the quality of hard-boiledness is more or less the central theme of a hard-boiled egg. Next time, do it this way.

I tell you whut, though, I enthusiastically endorse this trend toward tossing tuna with olive oil and capers, and of dressing arugula with citrinette.

68 comments

1 ping

  1. wolfa

    Not only that, but you’re supposed to stress the last syllable! Really!

  2. Twisty

    Baby steps, Wolfa.

  3. wolfa

    Once you’re pronouncing it differently, why not make another change . . . anyways, the total consistency of French stress was a hard-won battle for me (why didn’t anyone just tell me! YEARS of being told I pronounce things wrong, but not how to fix it), so it’s up there on my list.

  4. Betsy

    If I hear “concierge” pronounced “con-seeair” again, I’ll toh my cookih.

  5. Betsy

    Also “coup de grace”. Grahsssssss. Grahsssssss.

  6. Liz

    Oh I love it when Americans try to overcomepnsate on zee Fronchitude, announcing their worldy sophistication to the universe by omitting that final s sound. My favorite has always been the folks who pronounce the little Alice Waters hole in the wall diner “Chez Panisse” as “Shay Pan-EE.” Gaaah. How many more esses does she have to insert in the damn word? We get some fun French manglings down here in Cajun country too, though we are more than proud to perpetrate just as many of our own.

    But don’t get me started on French rose names.

  7. wolfa

    Viola!

  8. Galloise Blonde

    So your waiter would call me Gall-wah Blonde? Wouldn’t that make me a man? I don’t want to be a man.

  9. Twisty

    Of course, in America we pronounce the word Boise “boy-zee”

  10. SneakySnu

    Nevermind the way we massacre the name Des Moines.

    Canadian friends want to know why we say “foyer” pronouncing the r at the end. I’m at a loss.

  11. SneakySnu

    I forgot:

    1) to say that I love Vichyssoise, regardless of where it was invented. Likewise with Fettucine Alfredo, which no Italian would recognize.

    2) If you enjoy salad tossed with tuna and olive oil, may I suggest using mâche/lambs’ ears/songino as your green? It is so light and delicious, perfectly accompanying the tuna.

  12. wolfa

    Montpelier Vermont, anyone?

    Though really, changing of proper names doesn’t bother me. Nor does total anglicisation of the words. But just choose one. If you want to pronounce VIihyssoise like it’s English, go ahead: we have a long and glorious tradition of taking French words, sometimes the same ones several times. (Cherry/cerise, for instance.) But if you want to pronounce it like it’s French, then don’t do it half-assed. Unless you’re talking about Target, which as a store is fine, but it’s an ENGLISH word, pronounce it like that, pretentious jerks.

    Ahem.

  13. Arianna

    We get a fair amount of French mangling here in Canada as well. I wish they’d actually standardise how much French is learned here, because it drove me (and friends) crazy back in school.

    Towit, my elementary school (Ontario/Quebec border) did 40 minutes a day of French from JK-6, with a choice of continuing that or French immersion in 7-8, and then a choice of core french or extended French in Highschool for one year (mandatory French) and then extended or core French electives after that (though some highschools are French-only, and some offer full French immersion in an English school, and some are French/English split, and some are Catholic). I had a friend move to my elementary school in 4th grade from Niagara Falls who had never spoken a word of French in her life. She kinda got screwed there.

  14. Galloise Blonde

    SneakySnu, your answer is here.

  15. Kat

    My partner glares at me whenever I say “ba-TON”. He insists on pronouncing it “BA-ton”.

  16. Sredni Vashtar

    I think the French would frown on that portion size. I ordered a salade nicoise at a cafe in Aix-en-Provence once, expecting a starter. Luckily my French friends persuaded me not to order a ‘main’ too. The salad came in a bowl about twice the size of my head and, to my shame, I was unable to finish it.

  17. Grace

    The British used to demonstrate their scorn for all things Gallic by saying “garridge” for garage and “ballett” for ballet.

    However, Twisty needs Greek re-education classes: it’s “pseudo”, not “psuedo”. The latter would be a cool name for some evil Mexican concoction involving beef jerky, chocolate and tequila, though.

  18. Sredni Vashtar

    Also, maybe you should be thankful that they don’t pronounce it “nee-swoy-zee”?

  19. Erin

    Hah! Around my city, there are towns called DuBois (D00-Boyz) and North Versailles (ver-SALES). Of course, we also put french fries in salads and on sandwiches, so we aren’t all that concerned with the proper order of the universe to begin with.

  20. schatze

    Here in New Orleans we tend to pronounce French by whim so there is the French way and then there’s the New Orleans way. If you would dare to pronounce some local names the French way you would be immediately labeled as a non-local . We also like to tinker with classic French food and our Bordelaise, while retaining its “s” at the end will probably have no wine.
    I am not the world’s biggest eater but I really hate it when you get a plate of food and you can glance and easily count the components. I call it the 3 pea pod school of plating. I guess it’s more about the artistry than the food.

  21. Pony

    Pierre South Dakota. Grrrr. It’s Pee-airrr. Pee-aiRRH!

    It’s too cold here for neesh-wahz. A ton of snow and 14 degrees below zero F. When you’re feeling better Twisty, could you hammer out the recipe for the pasta e fagioli?

    Here, to make us all feel a bit better:

    Dildo, Newfoundland/Labrador

    Yes.

  22. susanjune

    Is it not a little classist to expect everybody to be able to pronounce foreign words correctly. After all, not everybody has the benefit of a college education or an extended stay abroad to polish up their language skills. Same goes for the bug bear about spelling and punctuation, lots of people are really smart and have lots of valuable things to contribute, however they often avoid contributing to wonderful things like Twisty’s blog because they are ashamed of their lack of education and abilty to express themselves perfectly. Just something to think about when we get annoyed by these things…..

  23. Sara

    Let’s talk for a minute about citrinette. I’ve not heard this word before, and I’m assuming it’s where one uses citrus juice instead of vinegar. Hey, I thought I invented that! Others do it too? Way cool!

    I started doing this myself as a reaction to vinegar poisoning. In the greater Massachusetts area, for at least the last ten years, every single purveyor of food I’ve visited has displayed a propensity for drenching everything s/he possibly can in vinegar, esp. balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is a tasty thing, but like botulinum toxin, a tiny amount goes a very long way, even on an exquisitely fresh buffalo mozzarella, roma tomato and whole-leaf raw basil sandwich. I have had my mouth burned to the point of bleeding at many otherwise lovely restaurants here by people who don’t quite get what to do with vinegar.

    Consequently, I developed this method of making dressing using fruit juice instead of vinegar. I truly thought I was the only one; I’m thrilled if that’s not so. Maybe we can start a movement. Maybe it’s already in place and we just have to revive it.

    I like to use the juice of a blood orange, a grapefruit, even a lime, some squashed raspberries or blueberries — any tart but ripe fruit, and sometimes a combination of several. I mix this with a light oil — sesame if I’m going for an Asian taste, e.v. olive oil for something a little more Mediterranean — and just a light touch of other seasonings like ginger, garlic or fresh herbs. (At one local restaurant, I punt their terrible conventional vinaigrette dressing altogether and just use a blob of their delectable olive tapenade with a little extra olive oil to help it spread, but I digress.) I use no more than a tablespoon or so of dressing for a pound of greens plus other veggies, toss them all together gently until each element is ever so lightly enrobed with the dressing but not bruised, and then serve. Che miracolo! You can taste the lettuce (and the arugula, and yes, the frisée)! You can taste the tomatoes! You can taste the cheese, the nuts, and the fruit! Each is bound together by the influence of a light hint of sweet and tangy spiciness, but NOT overwhelmed. It’s a beautiful thing. And your mouth won’t hurt while you munch, and if you eat or drink anything with or after your salad, you’ll be able to taste that, too! Imagine!

    “Dressing” does not mean “swaddling.” Dressing is really meant to be more an accessory than a garment. It should, in my opinion, accentuate the flavors of whatever wears it, not smother them. It has proven well nigh impossible for me to find a chef who understands this in this region of the country. Ironically, I learned for the first time in my life that this was even an option when I lived in France briefly in my late teens. This is ironic because France is what many ignorant tasteless people who overdress and oversauce their food actually want you to think is the source of their food aesthetic (even though their servers can’t pronounce “niçoise”).

    Let’s do it! Let’s celebrate food, not drown it! Allons, le citrinette! But lightly, tenderly, respectfully. :)

    (Naturally, I blame the patriarchy for bad dressing, and for too much dressing and not enough appreciation for the taste of fresh, raw vegetables. I’m not sure why this is the patriarchy’s fault, but it must be. I once read somewhere — Balzac, perhaps? — that a woman, Catherine de Medici, is the person most responsible for what we think of as the modern French food aesthetic; apparently, she brought good cooking with her from Italy. Before that, supposedly, French cooking was a lot like English or German, heavy and dead. I don’t know if this is true, but it sounds like as good a foundation for blame as any.)

  24. Twisty

    Susanjune in 22:”Is it not a little classist to expect everybody to be able to pronounce foreign words correctly. After all, not everybody has the benefit of a college education or an extended stay abroad to polish up their language skills. ”

    I’m not expecting “everybody” to speak fluent French. I merely die a little inside every time a waiter at a restaurant where the menu is in a foreign language has not been schooled to pronounce the words printed on it, if not with some applomb, that at least not wrong. If I cannot trust her overseers to attend to this small detail, how fresh can I expect the tuna to be?

    Pseudo. Yep.

  25. schatze

    I have often wondered why we don’t feel obligated to say Pah REE for Paris. Why we don’t pronounce foreign places by their correct foreign places name. And has Turin became Torino for us permanently curtesy of the Olympics?

  26. Pony

    Sara

    Amazing post. I’ve saved it in my recipe files. But there is so much here I save. Thanks Twisty. How did I live without you?

  27. Lorenzo

    Hey, at least the French kitchen has enough respect that people try to pronounce the names right. No one bothers with Italian food (i.e. ‘brusheta’ ARGH!). ;)

  28. Pony

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060304.wxchicken04/BNStory/International/home

    Sunset for France’s famous chickens

    SUSAN SACHS

    Special to The Globe and Mail

    BOURG-EN-BRESSE, FRANCE — The darling of gourmet chefs, cosseted every moment from egg to oven, the famous chickens of Bresse have long been promoted as the feathered equivalent of the finest French champagne.

    By law, each of these pampered birds must be accorded 10 square metres of outdoor living space, far more room than most tourists get in French hotels. The chickens are used to roaming free, snacking on nature’s grubs, slugs and seeds, and are entitled to squawk and dither in the sunshine for weeks beyond the lifespan of ordinary commercial poultry.

    …….

    But the idyllic lives of the chickens, so integral to their market value and cultural cachet, is over. Bird flu has cast a shadow over the farmyards of east-central France, depriving the chickens of the conditions essential to their uniqueness and threatening to wipe out the centuries-old breed.

    …more…

  29. Ron Sullivan

    Just go northeast a bit, you Texans (straight north, Liz) for some fun French manglings. Go to Smackover, Arkansas (for a covered bridge there, “chemin couvert”) and look for bowdark trees (“bois d’arc” which moebiuses nicely as “bow wood” — Osage orange). Up in Idaho, Pond O’Reilly is a French earring… you do the math.

    And Pas de l’heure Rhone que nous to get there.

  30. CafeSiren

    Wolfa (at 12):

    I always considered the fake-frenchified pronunciation of Target (the store) to be ironic, rather than pretentious.

    Of course, if one finds irony to be pretentious, then I suppose my point is moot.

  31. Betsy

    Paris with the “s” pronounced at the end is the English word for the French city that the French say Pah-ree … just as “Londres” is French for the English city, London.

    Some Turks are interested in getting the English-speaking world to style their country “Turkiye”. What they don’t get is that the English word for the country “Turkiye” is Turkey, simple as that. I’ll call it Turkiye when I call Germany “Deutschland” or the Netherlands “die Niederlanden.”

  32. oudemia

    But really, shouldn’t you be a Gauloise Blonde, anyway? If we’re getting picky and all?

  33. Erin

    Expectations about foreign pronunciation are only classist in a society that expects exposure to the greater world to be limited to those who can afford a college education or travel abroad. All of my cousins living outside of the US have been speaking and studying languages other than their own since grade school, and none of them are privately educated. The idea that education = class = global awareness and understanding seems to me to be the final nail in the coffin of the ideals of public education.

  34. Kathy McCarty

    I think what REALLY irritates you is that this whole area is still up for grabs (foreign word pronunciation)…..there is the deliberate “Amerkan” and “Texan” mispronunciation, and then there is the “I know what the word means, but I have only ever heard it said wrong (or, read it in a book)” kind. I live in Austin myself; now wouldn’t you think someone an ASS is they said “Man-shah-ka” instead of “man-shack”? (Manchaca)(a road (and town here)). Or “hwa-da-lu-pay” instead of “gwad-a -loop”? (Guadalupe…a street.) C’mon, they might as well ANNOUNCE that they are an ASS. I had given a great deal of thought to this and I believe the whole REASON for deliberate mispronunciation (see above posts on Dubois and Des Moines, as well as “Koenig” ) is that HOW you pronounce something is a MARK of BELONGING, ie, are you FROM here, or are you an Outlander of some kind who doesn’t KNOW the CORRECT mispronunciation? So much for place names, let’s move on to food:
    Sure, it is a bit embarrassing to be IN TEXAS where the majority of people don’t know French pronunciation but, cut your servers in restauraunts some slack here. Not only do they have a shitty job even under the best or circumstances (how long since you slung hash? Have you ever?) but now you have a right to be snitty to them if they have never heard a foreign word pronounced correctly? You say in your piece that, well, even if this young person who may hail from Bumfuck Texas, who is here to work their way through UT (or more likely ACC since UT is pretty much closed to the working class student) waiting tables can’t be held responsible for their lack of knowledge, THEIR MANAGER should TELL them the correct pronunciation. Yeah, Restaurant managers…THERE’S a erudite and well-travelled class for you……(Hello?). I myself work as a waitress in fine dining and I don’t mock my customers (not even in my HEART !) for not knowing how to pronounce what they are ordering…(“Orecchiette” comes to mind, as well as “Nicoise” and “Oaxachan”). Can’t we all play nicely together and refrain from being brutally judgemental? So some people don’t know the right way to pronounce foreign words. Big Whoop. It is still possible that they are nice people with feelings, and if you correct their pronunciation radiating contempt for their stupidity, well, I am sure you know how it feels to be on the short end of THAT stick, even if you have to hearken back to grade school.
    I think what REALLY got you in such a bad mood is the INSANELY small portions at Enoteca, and the absurdly high prices !! Everyone I know who has been there has said: “It was good, but such a bad Deal, I won’t be going back.” (That and having to listen to the Chimperor say “Newk-U-Ler”and “Terr-ist”.)

    Oh and I L*O*V*E the “blame” button. Wait…I Blame The Patriarchy for…….making Twisty grumpy!!

  35. Twisty

    I regret, Kathy McCarty, that you seem to have rather misinterpreted the spirit of my post.

  36. MzNicky

    Well, I’ll be danged. Twisty, just this last week I ordered a salade Niçoise for lunch, pronounced the sucker correctly, and, can you believe it, was “corrected” by the waitperson. “Salade nee-SWAZ, please,” says I. “Salade nee-SCHWAH?” the non-French waitperson queries, rather too pointedly and loudly, rearing a quizzical eyebrow. Now, that’s just rude, not to mention wrong.

  37. SneakySnu

    Hey Lorenzo, I bet you want them to stop saying “expresso” and “paninis” too!

  38. thebewilderness

    I must admit to having mangled many a word, english, french, whatever, I’m an equal opportunity mangler. I suppose it is because I have always read a great deal and while I used to look things up in the dictionary, I don’t much anymore. Somehow if I mangled it long enough the word simply had a richer meaning for me in its mangled state than when pronounced correctly. Mostly I like the ‘well, how do you say it?’ game. Hours of fun.

  39. Pony

    I don’t think you can equate mangling French (German whathaveyou) town and city names with mangling F&G food names. I mean really, someone must have been French in Pierre South Dakota. At one time?

    A founding motha?

  40. MzNicky

    “Expresso”! (Not to mention “expecially”!) How many times has my Phi Beta Kappa-flaunting sister-in-law said those words in my non-flaunting Phi Kappa Phi face? Not that faces can flaunt, nor would mine, if it could.

  41. Rene

    Well, the French are certainly equal-opportunity lang-manglers themselves. It always amused me the way that they’d say “hamburger” (ahm-bear-gehr). It almost seemed as if they were deliberately trying to mispronounce it so as not to give us hateful English speakers the satisfaction of recognizing their native language. Everyone I knew in France also used to call R.E.M. “rem” instead of “arr-ee-em.”

    It is highly irritating, however, to be corrected about something when one knows oneself to be right. I try to refrain from correcting people whenever possible — I live in Missouri, after all, where eveyone talks wrong — but it’s hard sometimes.

    My big pronunciation peeves, about which I’m largely silent, involve standard English words mispronounced by newscasters and other people who should know better. To wit: “furmiliar” instead of “familiar,” “realator,” for “realtor,” and the most irritating of all, “tempatchur” for “temperature.” These mushmouths studied elocution, for chrissakes.

    Meanwhile, I just found out that I’ve been mispronouncing the name of one of my favorite songwriters of all time: Ray Davies. Like almost everyone else in the world, I’ve always said “DA-vees,” but I recently learned that he pronounces his surname as “DA-viss.” I can’t bring myself to refer to him the right way, though, because I know that no one will know who I’m talking about.

    Rene

  42. amaz0n

    What is that salad, anyway? I am but a hayseed from Nebraska, and know nothing but iceburg lettuce and Dorthy Lynch.

  43. Sara

    Different Sara here – not the one who posted so intelligently in 23. I have a question. What *is* the proper pronunciation of Vichyssoise? I served it as a waitress when I was 16 and 17 years old, and was a) looked down on by the manager for not knowing what Vichyssoise was, and b) told that it was pronounced vishy swa. I’m getting the distinct impression that that’s not how I should’ve been saying it at all. I’m not that put-out about it, as most of my customers didn’t know what it was, let alone how to pronounce it.
    I’d love to know how to say it correctly.

  44. Ron Sullivan

    Liz, the kids I used to know who worked at Chez Panisse pronounced it “Cheese Penis.”

    Got to hand it to Alice. In 1979, the dishwashers got $10.00/hour plus a cut of the tips. Of course, I’ve been in Berkeley 33 years and haven’t eaten there yet. I can afford the cookbooks, though, and they work.

  45. Kathy McCarty

    Twisty, you are SO right. I should have re-read your post before I commented. After I read what YOU wrote, I read all the comments, and I think I got it all conflated in my head, all the people being mad about mispronunciation. YOU were the one RECEIVING the pronunciation-contempt, even though YOU were RIGHT. And here I was thinking you had been mean, or at the very least had been thinking mean thoughts. I’m sorry.
    Your site is my favorite site in the WHOLE WORLD and I read it everyday !! Forgive me !!!

  46. Twisty

    My architect, who is from Connecticut or New Hampshire or something like that, says “heighth.” After biting my tongue on this about 7043 times (when you’re building a house, you talk about the height of things a lot), I finally sustained one of those obstreperal-lobe injuries where the correction comes blurting out before I could stop it. “Really?” he said, “are you sure?” He was incredulous. I assured him.

    That was about a year ago. I thought he would be grateful to me for delivering him from his shadowy world of ignorance. But it is as though the exchange never passed between us; he is a professional dimension-measurer, but he still says “heighth” without a care in the world. I sort of admire him for it.

  47. tigtog

    Lucky you, in Thexas you don’th need centhral heathing.

  48. Galloise Blonde

    Oudemia, I’m Welsh in origin, which is gallois(e). The similarity comes because the Gauls were also Celtic people, and their term for Wales is ‘pays de Galles’; the country of the Celts. And I like to smoke, but not Gauloises.

  49. Galloise Blonde

    Rene, did you ask for a muff-een, a cooKEE or a meelkshek with your ahm-bare-gare? Ben n’ Jerry’s French franchises are fantastic for franglais…Chocolat cheep cooKEE deau, neu yorrrk su-pare foojh churnk etc.

  50. Twisty

    “Lucky you, in Thexas you don’th need centhral heathing.”

    Would that it were true, but Austin, unfortnately, can get pretty nippy during the winter months. It was in the 40s just the other day.

  51. oudemia

    Good to know! I have a one-track mind, since there is a pack of Gauloises Blondes in front of me on my coffee table.

  52. Betsy

    Vichyssoise: Vee-shee-swahz. The final “e” causes the last “s” to be pronounced.

    If the soup were a man, it would be “vichyssois,” no e, silent final s. (vee-shee-swah)

    But the soup, she is a female.

  53. Grace

    I’m really going flat out for the title of Most Annoying Commenter here, having been the “pseudo” pedant, but I can’t resist suggesting that Twisty’s contractor may have been a time traveler; “heighth” was correct in 1600.

    Now I’m imagining a time traveling developer … “what do you mean, you don’t want half timbering and an outdoor privy??”

  54. wolfa

    In French: don’t pronounce a consonant if it’s the last letter of the word, do pronounce it otherwise. This will get you most of the way there.

    Re: francisation of hambuger — why not? Taking a word from another language and then making it fit your own language is something English does more than any other language. It’s not xenophobia, it’s just language change.

    That said, I refuse to pronounce chipotle, ever. I am fairly sure that, once, the tl was the voiceless lateral fricative (try to pronounce a k and an l at the same time), which is (a) super pretentious and (b) certainly incorrect now and (c) very hard to pronounce in the middle of the word, but I hear -tle, like in bottle, or tlay, and both sound really silly.

  55. Luckynkl

    Can anyone tell me how to the properly pronounce the word “No?” I figure we must all be saying it wrong cuz men don’t seem to recognize the word. Or maybe it’s just that women have accents men can’t understand?

  56. Ruthie

    Actually, I’m more curious what others do about “chipotle.” My salsa of choice at the lame-cheapass poor-excuse-for-a-taqueria in my (Seattle) office building is the chipotle, and I’ll confess to doing the “chi-po-tlay” thing because I don’t really know how to pronounce it. I’ve heard others say “chi-pol-tay,” though, and that’s just wrong. Isn’t it?

  57. Twisty

    Well, you can’t go around not saying “chipotle.” Down here it is commonly pronounced cha-POTE-li, which usually has the desired effect of producing the chile in question.

  58. Pony

    Anyway, the word hamburger is German. As in city of Hamburger, Germany. So North Americans (and the French) stole it and are both mispronouncing it.

  59. Pony

    Arrrgh. That’s Hamburg Germany. (Do not do not do not post before caffeine).

  60. Chris Clarke

    (c) very hard to pronounce in the middle of the word, but I hear -tle, like in bottle, or tlay, and both sound really silly.

    “tlay” is not all that far off from the way Poblanos or Jalapeños (the people, not the chile peppers) pronounce it. But you’re right about the voiceless lateral fricative thing, as far as I can tell. If you say it with the same kind of “t” as you have in the word “about,” you’re alright. But the between the teeth “t” isn’t an atrocity. Most native speakers of Mexican Spanish will just be glad you didn’t say “Chipoltay.” Mexicans are a gracious and forgiving people.

  61. Emma

    I heard someone American say the word “chipotle” for the first time recently on a trip to NY. Up until then it had been chi-pottle (to rhyme with “bottle”) in my head.

    My favourite don’t-say-it-like-the-locals words are “Glasgow” (my home town) and “Moscow”. Americans (that I’ve met) rhyme the last syllable with “cow”. UK people (and Russians!) rhyme them with “oh”.

  62. wolfa

    Given where the pepper was from, I figured I was safe in guessing where the -tl- came from. It’s meaningless, but it inhibits any other pronunciation either, because I am nuts like that.

    Luckily, I almost never have to pronounce it, now that I know where to find it in my local store. (“Do you have any . . . I never know how to pronounce it, the peppers . . . chip . . . ” She was not sure how to pronounce it either, but I got them.)

    If we’re correcting place names: Montreal, first vowel like -un, not -awn; Quebec, first vowel a schwa, not “EE”. (If you really want to be good, ke-bek. No w sound.)

  63. Rhus

    In case no Mexican reader appears, a very pedantic note from Spain. -tl- is a difficult combination for non-Mexican Spanish speakers: we usually separate the two consonants (two phonemes) in different syllables (At-lán-ti-co). -tl- as a single phoneme, however, happens in Mexican Spanish as inherited from the indigenous language náhuatl. And I would agree with Chris’s phonetic description.

    End of pedantry (I guess): what you do, Ruthie, seems correctly pronounced to me. The e should sound in Spanish as the one in bed.

    On the other hand, English-speaking people can bungle chipotle to their heart’s content until they adopt a really comfortable and general form. It’s your privilege to write tamale instead of the (correct in Spanish) tamal. We’re only shocked at foreign words when they are recent acquisitions. You should hear what we Spaniards do with English…

    Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

  64. Ledasmom

    The inhabitants of Moscow, Idaho rhyme it with “oh”, as well, and I suspect they do the same with the capital of Russia.
    Regarding citrus salad dressing, my favorite thing with good greens is to peel the orange in that way that removes all the pith (you take a sharp knife and carve the peel and pith away as one, and then cut the segments out from the membrane), squeeze the remains over a bowl, mix appropriate amounts of the resultant juice and a good olive oil and toss with the orange segments and the greens. Or, of course, in summer, just cut up a few good tomatoes, add oil and basil, and throw that on the greens: juicy, but good, and goes well with croutons if you have decent ones.

  65. Catharine

    I think French is just another tool of the Man trying to keep us down. All those silent letters? As yourself…. What are they hiding?

    ~C~

  66. starfyre

    are u serious? have u nothing better to do with your lives!? “dont say Tar-shay say Target”… blah blah blah. i was searching for the correct pronounciation of Chez Panisse because I’m doing a presentation on female chefs and google happened to bring me to this sight. which im sorry to say…is quite sad…yes people mess up when they say things. what do u expect, we’re a nation made up of a whole lot of ethnicities. unless your some expert on language chances are you’re gonna screw up stuff. and that being said i will not waste another second of my life on this strange site

  67. Jasmine

    I’m wondering what exactally IS “vishy swa”? Or is it actually “Vichyssoise”? How do you pronounce it properly? What is the definition of vishy swa?

    I would thankfully welcome your help…

  68. Twisty

    Dear Jasmine,

    Vishy swa is an American term roughly analogous to the Foucaultian ’semioticist nihilism,’ used most frequently to denote a paradigm of conceptualist consciousness, although it could be argued that the American concept is rather more concerned with sublimating the self-referential narrative so that it includes reality as a paradox.

    Why do you ask?

    By the way, I admire your highly original use of the ellipsis. Are you perhaps suggesting that the period, like all truths, is essentially an outmoded, elitist construction denoting the ultimate failure of context in postnarrative texts? Or are you just an ass?

  1. Public Cans of Austin: Enoteca at I Blame The Patriarchy

    [...] As far as ancillary cafés attached to popular South Congress “wood fired pizza” joints go, Enoteca, that previously-discussed bulge off the starboard side of Vespaio, is Stingray’s favorite. [...]

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