We have just returned from our first foray out of the US, across the border to Canada. Six days in a twilight world that’s not American and not British, but a pleasant hybrid of the two. I discovered Tim Horton’s – a crossbreed cafe somewhere between Dunkin’ Donuts and Greggs the Bakers. I ate the Boston Cream doughnut, a custardy, chocolate covered delight. I struggled with Canadian vowels, where ‘mud’ rhymes with ‘could’ which you discover you buy your toddler a Canadian board book, so you have to adapt when you read it. I scrutinised Canadian currency with its nod to Britain with the Queen’s image firmly ensconced on the coins. And the weather’s just like NW3, all wet, a bit warm but mostly boots and rain coat weather. Kind of comforting. I thought it was telling that I looked forward to returning to NYC with its 30 degree heat where it is warm enough in the evening to stroll around in a t shirt and shorts (not that I have unveiled my knees to NYC yet). I’ll tire of the heat and humidity soon, but for now, it’s good to be back.
So my trip to a local cafe went like this:
“Hot tea, please”.
(I have learnt to ask for hot tea, as opposed to iced tea.)
(He looks confused.)
“No. Hot. Tea. Please.”
(The server looks pleadingly to his co-worker.)
“She wants tea. Hot tea.”
(The co-worker looks bemused, just like me.)
“Yes, hot tea.”
I point to the packets of tea behind him. I am relieved to see earl grey (gray here) as an option. I am more relieved to see him put the bag into the cup and then pour the water on. A proper cup of tea.
Really. Since when does ‘hot tea’ sound like ‘cheese Danish’. And more importantly what is a cheese Danish?
So far I have learnt that coriander is called cilantro and rocket is called arugula – very Star Trek. Paracetamol is known as acetaminophen, so when we were looking for a Calpol equivalent, we originally thought that paracetamol didn’t exist here. Double cream is known as heavy cream, which makes sense. There are a few words I already knew, but now have to use them without remarking on them, such as stroller (buggy), diaper (nappy) and mom (mum). There are no lifts, only elevators; no shops, but stores and no queues in those stores as you are ‘on line’. I am learning to drop the ‘t’ from words, such as water and eighty. Instead I now try to say wa-der and ei-dey, with an emphasis on the second syllable. And I have also learnt from a recent visit to a beer shop that a container which holds 2 pints of beer is called a growler!