My family has little trouble learning new scientific words, but sometimes we struggle to learn about culture. Here is my latest attempt to broaden the minds of my family, to take them, at least in a culinary fashion, to distant lands.
Recently I found in my pantry a food called quinoa. It originates in South America. The box says it is pronounced “keen-wah”. I was delighted to discover that it can be made in the rice cooker. So I served it for dinner that night, and got the following response.
Youngest Daughter: What is this? Is it rice?
Me: No, it’s quinoa. Try a little bit.
Youngest Daughter: When are we going to have that onomagora again?
Me: The what?
* * * * *
(The next day)
Youngest Daughter: When are we having quinceaños again?
Me: What? Your brother is already 16. And you are going to turn 13.
YD: You know, the grain thing. The keegodooga. The kee-wa.
Me: Oh! The quinoa.
* * * * *
(Three days later, with Oldest Daughter home from spring break)
The Common Household Husband: Are we going to have that stuff for dinner? I liked that stuff.
Me: What stuff?
Husband: The chemo.
Oldest Daughter (perhaps regretting that she had to leave the college dining hall behind for a week): Chemo?! We’re having chemo for dinner?!
Husband: The oxymoron.... the occlumency... the quimby...
Me: Do you mean quinoa?
Oldest Daughter: So, Mom, does this mean that you finally served that quinoa that we bought last time I was home? (She pronounced it “kee-NO-ah,” which is probably also correct.)
(at dinner that evening)
Youngest Daughter: Please pass el wonkee.
Husband, speaking authoritatively: It’s called ‘quantos’.
* * *
You will notice that my son did not comment. This is because he only endorses meat, cheese and bread. The rest of the Common Household enthusiastically recommends quinoa, whether or not you can pronounce it. It’s gluten free!