Monday, February 20, 2012
I recently re-watched the Simpsons episode "Much Apu About Nothing" (the episode where it turns out Apu is an illegal immigrant) and kind of can't get over how brilliant of a social commentary there was in that episode. How quickly the vast majority of North Americans forget that our ancestors were the immigrants we now complain about.
The end of that episode made me remember a joke I heard as a kid that has stuck with me: A Native American got onto a tour bus in Washington DC. "Hey, how do you like our city?" asked the tour guide. "How do you like our country?" replied the Native American.
Saskatoon itself has seen massive multicultural growth over the past few years. I think it's super cool, and I'm excited that my future children will be exposed to people from so many different backgrounds as they grow up, because my friends have always been white, white, and more white. It's unfortunate that the education system was not prepared to deal with the huge influx of kids into the system who can't speak English though, and especially unfortunate that the government doesn't seem to recognize this problem and instead is cutting back on education funding that could help these kids.
There's my long intro to explain that I'm not the kind of redneck who goes around saying stuff like "You want to live in OUR country, SPEAK ENGLISH" because I understand the issues surrounding immigration and language and reasons for moving your family across the world are often more complicated than we think, not to mention that there are a ton of languages that existed, and STILL exist, in Canada before English. So I don't go around saying things like that, and I get offended when people do.
But there's one thing that people say, and when they say it my inner redneck wants to scream "SPEAK ENGLISH!" That thing is "haricots verts."
If you understand a little bit of French, you'll be able to translate right away that haricots verts are green beans. Yet in the culinary world, they are never called green beans. They are always called haricots verts.
How many recipes have I seen that call for haricots verts? Too many. I do realize that perhaps the term haricots verts is meant to distinguish fresh green beans from the chopped and frozen variety, but can you please just SPEAK ENGLISH and call them fresh green beans? How many poor suckers have gone to the store because they're trying to cook a fancy dinner and asked the pimply teens where the "haricots verts" are?
Trying to class up a simple vegetable (okay legume - you know what I mean) by calling it by its French name is straight-up pretentious. Unless the food doesn't HAVE an English name, like baguette or croissant or even creme fraiche, if the rest of your sentence or recipe is spoken or written in English, use the freaking English name for the ingredient. You're not fooling anyone with your fancy "haricots verts." We all know they're still just green beans.