Wednesday, June 3, 2009

clams, worms, daisies and lettuce, a linguistic study.

I've been at it again, this time writing an article about 15 desserts you should try on the road, and wishing that any of those were right here with me in my barbie-pink apartment (so denominated by a friend). Alas, they are not, we're all yogurt and oats and things for breakfast, whenever that happens.

I come to you today to compare clams and worms, lettuce and daisies. Bear with me, we're not talking about food, though if you'd like to eat all and sundry of the aforementioned, please do not let me stop you, though I can not vouch for daisies' nonpoisonous status, margaritas notwithstanding (margarita means daisy in Spanish. It's also used to mean dimples, but I'm told you for sure shouldn't eat those). One of my favorite books as a child was How to Eat Fried Worms, which I read endlessly and with nausea, and take to mean that worms are, if not appetizing (to me), at least edible.

And back to the point.

Clams and worms.

Happy as a clam. I suppose this kind of makes sense. For one thing, a clamshell is vaguely smiley. Of course, the inside of the clam itself, as I sadly learned the other day is all jiggly mystery phalanges and valves. They're also filterers, which means they eat all the stuff that falls to the bottom. But okay, I can accept that they might be happy, in spite of all of this.

But worms?

Feliz como lombriz. Happy as a worm. Hmmm. Are worms happy because they have no real brain, live to squiggle and wiggle and aerate your soil? Because you aren't eating them like the kid in the book I just mentioned, who must eat 15 worms in 15 days to win $50 for a new motorbike? Lucky worms, $50 doesn't go very far these days. And as an aside within an aside, lombriz is one word for worm in Spanish, and gusano is another. When you do worm-composting you call them lombrices (lombricultura), and when you use them for bait or if they've infected your computer, they are gusanos. I simply could not tell you why.

I'm on board with the clams and worms, even if I do think happy as a clam is more visually appealing than the image of happy as a worm. However, /feliz como lombriz has a nice ring to it. Hmmm, stalemate.

Now, what's with the daisies and lettuce?

Fresh as a daisy, we say in English. Hmmm. Daisies are pretty, I suppose, all yellow and white and pushing up... oh wait, not that. Anyway, pretty and very he loves me/he loves me not, all yellow and white and other variations. But the foliage on a daisy smells very strong, and fresh? I just don't know. I don't see anything fresh about daisies. In fact, if you put them in a vase with other flowers, they're the last ones standing, moldy greenery notwithstanding. Oh wait! Maybe it's because they're long-lasting. Maybe we're onto something. But that's not freshness, that's appearing fresh. Like how I must appear to be younger than I am, which would explain last week's 20-something (in this case 25) hitting on me. It doesn't make me 25 (and about this I am not sad), and it doesn't make the daisy fresh. I have no word on whether or not it makes the daisy sad, but I will be sure to let you know as soon as I intuit the answer. Daisies' freshness status: in debate.

Fresquita como lechuga. Now lettuce on the other hand, that's fresh (if it's not salad-in-a-bag, pumped in there with some weird gas so it doesn't wilt or spoil). Lettuce fresh out of the ground from your friend's organic garden (where they employ lombricultura or from the verduleria (fruit and veggie shop) or the feria (fresh market) is fresh. It's crunchy and green tasting/smelling and brightens up a sandwich (in the United States anyway) and makes a great salad base (again, in the US, here in Chile lettuce only rarely makes it into restaurant salads, like the difference between words for worms, I'm not sure we know why). Lettuce surely wins the daisy-lettuce duel, with leaves to spare. (oh! I kill me).

So there you have it, clams, worms, daisies and lettuce. Now aren't you glad you can go read that article about desserts instead of thinking about this all day? Nom, as the cool kids say. (in Spanish it's ├▒am)

2 comments:

Richard said...

Oh the confectionery! makes me want to lick my monitor. And then lick it again in case I missed something. I hope you got to try some of those desserts. Mmmm (drifts away) I can feel my arteries clamping shut at the thought of all that sugar. :)

As for daisies and worms and clams - lord knows. If the worms are happy because they aren't being eaten, then you would think the daisies should be too? And worms certainly keep fresher than daisies (if You look after them right) - though I wouldn't make a salad out of either.

Margaret said...

ok- I can buy your happy-looking clams, and feliz como lombriz is a rhyming thing... and the whole lechugas vs daisies duking it out in the title round for the champion of fresh trophy, I'll give you that... but the one I really want to understand is how did we ever get to "aburrido como ostra"...? How do we know that oysters are bored?