Some time ago Mrs EatRio and I were cooking up something delicious in the kitchen (prawn and lemon risotto since you ask). As I was getting the drinks I said “Would you mind spooning the risotto out into those those bowls?”
Her reply surprised me. Instead of the usual “Yes chef!” that I expect and demand in my kitchen, she asked incredulously “Spooning? I can spoon something out? I love how almost anything can be a verb in English.”
It wasn’t something I’d ever given much thought, but now that she had mentioned it I felt a warm glow of pride as if somehow I was responsible for the remarkable versatility of my native tongue. I excitedly blurted out “You can ladle out soup too! You know, using a ladle!” and waited expectantly for her amazed reaction to this new linguistic revelation, but instead she replied with a barely interested “Oh…” and I realised that the magic of the moment had passed…
More recently I stumbled upon something which shows that Portuguese can play that game too.
A little while back I found myself ‘between desks’ at the office. A bunch of new people had started and suddenly there was no spare desk for me. Imagine hot-desking in a room full of people who aren’t hot-desking – it was like that (you didn’t think I was some high-powered executive did you?). I would be given a desk in a meeting room, then some people would need it for a meeting so I would have to move out and use someone’s desk for a couple of hours. Then that person would return and so I’d have to go somewhere else.
One day a Very Nice Manager said to me “Oh Tom, I’m sorry you have to keep moving around. It’s not good for you to be pipocando like this.”
Now then, a little Portuguese background. All verbs end in “ar”, “er”, “ir” or “or”. The gerund form (“walking” is the gerund form of the verb “to walk”) always involves replacing the final “r” with “ndo”.
Thus falar (to speak) => falando (speaking); comer (to eat) => comendo (eating); partir (to leave) => partindo (leaving)
So when she apologised that I was pipocando, it instantly conjured up an image of me ‘popcorning’! It seemed a brilliant analogy for the fact that I kept jumping from one location to the next. And it meant that there must be a Portuguese verb, pipocar which had clearly evolved from the noun for popcorn, pipoca.
When I looked into this a little further it seems that the Very Nice Manager was using the word pipocar in quite an unconventional way. A more common translation would be “to pop up” as in to suddenly appear in various places.
Apparently pipocar is also a footballing term, meaning to lose your nerve at a moment of great importance (something all English fans will understand a little too well).
Seeing as we’re being all popcorny today, I thought I’d leave you with these mad flavours I discovered on a website in the US. What will they think of next?