Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fixing the menu

Last night I had a funny experience, something I suspect that many travelers fantasize about. OK, maybe not many. But often when you’re traveling, you’ll see really funny translations into English. So last night, as I was having supper at my usual restaurant, the manager said he had a request. Could I tell him the right English word for a dish containing mashed lung and heart of sheep?

We finally arrived at the phrase “organ meats” to delicately describe this dish. But there were all sorts of other errors on the menu, so we ended up reading through the entire work. As printed, the menu used interesting and appetizing phrases like “guts,” “turkey cock,” “uild boar,” “root salad,” and “spirituous liquids.” The manager got a kick when I told him about the dual meanings of the word “cock.” Personally, my favorite translation was “dil salad.” I had foolishly assumed that “dil” was just a misspelling of the “dill.” Actually, “dil” means tongue in Azerbaijan. So, I can imagine the surprise of a poor herbivore ordering this salad, and being presented with some fleshy Azerbaijani concoction.

Here are a few recent photos from Sheki. The old streets are an endless source of amusement for me. Meeting random children. Examining the old houses. As I came back from a morning walk today, a woman I’ve chatted with before asked why I didn’t take a picture of the old church.

“Old church? Where?”

She pointed at the courtyard next to her house. From the street, it was not at all evident that it was a church. I asked if she’d let me see the building. She agreed and her grandson opened up the metal gate.

The church is supposedly Albanian. Could be. It looks very old. And very much in disrepair. Not much was visible from the outside aside from the top of the window arches. Some cabinets were stacked up in front of the structure. The woman next door said “they” are going to repair the building. I don’t know when. Judging from the other things that need repair in this town, I don’t think it will happen soon.