The day I discovered what a parsnip is
This is seemingly another of those positive-thinking posts with a mundane-but-awesome story about how rewarding is to discover a new tasty vegetable. I mean, it is but I found it out as I worked my ass off and there is nothing about enjoying the little things in life here, less still about how wonderful is being vegan. I was taking food orders just like everyday when I identified an unknown word in the menu to be figure out with large doses of imagination, just like everyday. Seeing that I could not get it without any help, I was showed the root vegetable in the kitchen. First thing I thought was “what the hell is that?”, followed by “my brain says a faded carrot but my heart says NO”. According to my coworker that was a “parsnip”, name I have misspelled in this post every single time. Naming, touching and even tasting the food plant was not enought to me though and as a result of a whole life of brainwashing language lessons, I needed to translate it to Spanish just to make sure it did existed. So a few hours later, I searched the word in the dictionary. And then.
What on earth is a damn “chirivía”?
Then I realised I have not just learnt a new English word but a new word in general, like one of those babies who stare at me with a challenging look while serving. They wonder what is that food which is not a realiable purée and I was wondering what was that food plant which was not a reliable pesto.
And then I realised to what exten my mother tongue is completely useless as far as learning other languages is concerned. I was already aware of how useless can be Spanish when translating abstract concepts such as “ insane” or “hype”. But this is pretty much different because it’s about a physical object. In particular, an object not commonly eaten outside North European countries. Despite having an equivalent word in Spanish, this was completely meaningless to me and I gather it fell into disuse if it ever was used. In bref, I could have missed the beauty of that thought-provoking-long-shaped vegetable if I had not learnt the word “parsnip”. And even more important, I would keep thinking that my language is more important than it actually is: just a bunch of words which reflects a very limited geographical reality.
*Bonus stage: From that day forward, I avoid translating unknown English words into Spanish and instead of that, I just write them down in the wall.*