Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Less talking, more posting!

Should really try to get into the habit of posting more! I feel like I'm always waiting for some big event that I desperately need to write about, but funny little stories are good, too, right?

Mum is here, and I have a day off tomorrow, and I just bought an awesome book of really interesting knitting patterns, and I'm crocheting a skirt! More details to follow!

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At work the other day, we served a bunch of little old Canadian ladies who were travelling together. There's quite a big Icelandic (or distantly Icelandic) population in Canada, and some of the ladies were visiting the farms where their great grandmothers grew up - pretty sweet.

Funny part one: When the ladies first wander in...

Me: Góðan daginn, hello. Can I help you with anything?
Nice little Canadian lady: No, that's alright, we're just taking a look for now. Thanks, though.
Kristín María, to me, in Icelandic: Gosh, these guys are really polite for Americans.
Me, to KM, in Icelandic: Yes, it's bizarre... (Light bulb above head!) Oh wait, they must be Canadian!
KM: Oh yeah, of course!

'Cause people from the United States are all rude!
Disclaimer: I know people from the US are not all rude, but hey, stereotypes. Plus we were right!


Funny part two: While they were looking at cakes...

Another little old Canadian lady: Oh hey, is this one a vínarterta?
Me: Yep. (Still not realising these ladies are sort of Icelandic, so I go on to explain - vínarterta is a white sponge-type cake, baked in big slabs that are then stacked on top of each other with jam in between. These ones have rhubarb jam, which is also how my grandma makes it...)
Canadian lady: Oh, so they're not real Icelandic vínarterta, with the prunes? My great-grandma used to make the real Icelandic ones...
Me: Buh? Uh. Okay then.

So the vínarterta that has been passed down from someone's great-grandma in another country is more Icelandic than the one that's being made by um, Icelandic people now? Cool.

Herdís explained the difference to me, but feel free to skip it if you don't actually care about the relationship between jam and immigration: the prune one was originally made at Christmas, or for big fancy celebrations, because prunes are pretty hard to come by in Iceland. They used rhubarb jam for the day-to-day stuff. But then since prunes are easy to get in Canada, this lady of course made that one into her day-to-day cake.
I found it interesting, anyway.


Funny part the third, just because the above reminded me of a funny story...

I read an article aaages ago (sorry, no bibliography) written by an Icelander who visited Gimli, Manitoba - a city founded by Icelandic settlers in 1875. He wrote about the way they did their best to keep up the language and traditions, but sometimes it got a bit muddled.

The part I remember was when he'd just spent the day with a third or fourth generation Gimli inhabitant. They were at their cars saying good evening, and the Icelandic dude said bye. The Gimli guy said 'Góða nótt, ástin mín!' which directly translates to 'Good night, my darling!'

Icelandic dude goes 'um, awkward...' but they figure it out. The Gimli guy learnt his Icelandic from his Amma, and that's how she always said good night to him! It didn't occur to him that the context was way off.

Makes me wonder how weird my Icelandic is - my parents moved to Australia in the sixties, so it'd be interesting to see exactly what contextual stuff I'm missing...

2 comments:

Maja said...

I'm pretty sure your context is fine as you have been back to iceland yourself many times. Those guys probably never had.

Funny stories :)

kathybou said...

My darling, hahaha. That's actually sweet.

I'm American.. and I don't think I'm rude but my boyfriend is Canadian so maybe he rubs off on me.

This whole prune thing is exactly why I don't get flip when I'm some place new.. Usually there is a reason for lots of things, you just don't know them yet. Nice stories!