Same Names, Different Interpretations

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ImageOver the past four months I realized that just because two people use the same words does not mean that that will interpret it looks the same way.

When I was told my host family and I were going to have waffles for dinner, I almost had a heart attack. I absolutely love waffles and I can eat them at any time. I asked my host mother if she had syrup to put on the waffles and she looked at me with pure confusion. She had never heard of syrup. That should have been my first clue that this waffle feast would not be like I expected.

ImageStill reeling in the excitement, I ran to the nearest Pão de Açucar, the chain grocery store that sells all of the imported foods. Hidden way in the back, behind the jars of mel, honey, was the precious syrup. However, it wasn’t that precious when I saw the price. Essentially, I paid $15 for a bottle of fake syrup because Brazil doesn’t have trees that produce the sap to make it. Still that wouldn’t deter me from enjoying my waffles.

So the weekend finally came and I went to my host sister’s house to have sandwiches and waffles. Everyone sat around the table and then I noticed that everyone was eating a lot, but yet there were no waffles. So then I asked my host mom what was happening and she said that waffles aren’t a meal here, they are a dessert. WHAT?! I was super surprised because I can’t count how many times that I’ve eaten waffles for breakfast and it was a complete meal.

ImageWe finally began to eat the waffles, but my host family only eats a fourth of a waffle each, like a snack. They put Nutella and jam on their waffles as well to add flavor. It turns out that not everyone likes syrup and that it is actually an acquired taste. While I thought the syrup and the waffles tasted like the gold at the end of the rainbow, they compared it to cough medicine. This got me thinking what other foods did the US and Brazil have in common, but are interpreted differently.

Who would have thought that pizza could have a different interpretation? At home, the most basic of pizza has three main ingredients: dough, cheese and tomato sauce. Of course there are variations, but for the most part, every pizza has those three elements. However, in Brazil, the tomato sauce is optional. Actually, it is very rare to see to see a basic pizza because pizza is considered real food. So it would not be uncommon to see, basically, a three course meal on one slice. Yet, it is rare to go to Brazilian pizzeria and order by the slice because of its meal status. This explains why Brazilians have opted to eat their pizza with a fork and knife.

Although I do miss the way I used to eat both waffles and pizza, I have embraced the Brazilian way as well. I tried the waffles with jam, which is a big deal for me because I am a syrup lover to the core. However, my host mom isn’t surprised if I eat my pizza with my hands every now and then.

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