I had a brilliant idea this morning for an effective way to study some Dutch in preparation for my trip to Amsterdam later this summer. I could just sit down and carefully read my way through the Dutch cookbook that my friend Danny sent me several years ago, looking up every word i don’t know. While i get some good cooking ideas, i can be building vocabulary in one of my favorite areas. That way when i find myself understanding nothing in a conversation that’s going on around me in Amsterdam, i can steer the conversation back onto cooking, where i’ll at least have a chance of following it.
I already knew the names of most foods in Dutch, but my knowledge of cooking terminology was close to zero. So i set out with the cookbook at my left hand and a small dictionary at my right in case i couldn’t work my way through relying on context and cognates to German and English.
Good thing i had the dictionary because before i got beyond the list of ingredients for the first recipe i hit “eventueel nootmuskaat”, which i decided was probably not “eventual emergency mousecat” although i sure did like the ring of that.
Well, yes, “eventueel” is one of those false cognates and means “optional” rather than “eventual”; and as much as i like the idea of an emergency mousecat, if such a thing existed it would be spelled “noodmuiskat” instead of “nootmuskaat”, which means “nutmeg”.
And yes, i fear this one may be funnier in Dutch, so we’ll see how it plays in Amsterdam.
Meanwhile, this morning i Segwayed over to SF General Hospital for my final visit participating in a study of brain trauma victims that i agreed to join after i woke up there on a gurney last January. Today they did some tests, not all of which i passed although i think the problem is senility rather than leftover trauma. The Brain Trauma Center is in the old part of the hospital, and as i exited i noticed that the building across the street could almost have been in Amsterdam.