There aren’t all that many things that give away my Canadian origin these days. My accent, which has never been particularly strong (I don’t sound remotely like Bob and Doug MacKenzie), isn’t immediately identifiable to most people in the US. Except for a few words like out and about, sorry and tomorrow, I am virtually indistinguishable from my American friends. There were a few other things I used to say with a strong Canadian accent, such as using a short “a” sound for words like pasta and drama, but my husband teased me so mercilessly when we were dating that I dropped those long ago. And now when I return home (I still think of Canada as “home”), I can hear the distinctive Canadian accent and cadence that Americans talk about. It makes me a little sad to think about losing my accent but I figure as long as I can teach my kids to call me Mum instead of Mom, I will have done my Canadian duty.
But occasionally, I still say something that gives me away immediately. Part of my Canadian heritage was 8 long years of badly taught French, out of which I emerged barely able to speak the language and completely intimidated if any fluent French speaker fired a question my way. Pardonnez moi, je ne comprends pas, je parle Englais! However, that legacy left me with the tendency to assume a French accent on foreign words, particularly those of all Romance languages. And a tendency to want to respond with stock French phrases to any question in Spanish. I once answered “ça va bien” when asked how I was while on a vacation in Mexico. D’oh!
This little tendency tripped me up when on a blogger trip last fall. I had read of ceviche many times but I’d never tried it, nor had I ever heard the word spoken aloud. So when served some lovely chopped fish “cooked” in acidic citrus juice, I said “Oh, I’ve always wanted to try ce-veesh”. To the absolute hilarity of some American-born bloggers. “What did you just call the ce-vee-che?”, they asked. Damn, gave myself a way again! All that French training, just to make me look silly in front of other food bloggers! Blame Canada!
It still didn’t deter me from wanting to try making my own ceviche (it somehow takes on a whole new meaning when pronounced with a Spanish accent rather than a French one!). Of course, I am pairing it with endives leaves, which should, in fact, be said with a French accent. On-deev. My favourite way to eat endive is fresh, with dips and spreads and other fresh ingredients. The freshness of the shrimp, marinated for hours in lime juice so that it’s cooked through, is a perfect match for the fresh, crisp endive. So what if I’m mixing my cuisines??? As long as I am pronouncing them correctly…