Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Surprise, surprise. The friends from London are in town.

We went to their wedding two years ago in Malaysia, a wedding which requires an essay unto itself to properly capture the peculiar post-colonial palm-treed and sky-scrapered not-quite-Singapore essence of it all. The aunties, real-life versions of 30s actresses, madcap and impossibly elegant. The Royal Selangor Golf Club. St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral (which is, in fact, smaller than, say, the First Christian Reformed Church in Sully, Iowa, pop. 322) with its uneven stone floors paved over the tropical earth, its Indian priest and its ancient organist playing ''Jerusalem'' in rather ragged fashion, not to mention the irony of a group of Scots-Chinese Malaysians and Swedes singing about founding a new Jerusalem on God's green England.

But that's another story.

Anyway, the friends from London are in town, as well as the stylist who lives in Greece and who is getting married in a couple of weeks in Athens. So we had dinner with about 10 people down at the Nordic Light Hotel, drinking way too much red wine and smoking way too many cigarettes on a school night.

Both M., the T.V. producer, and the husband had veal, which was tasteless according to four different palates (not mine, I didn't try it). The waitress apologized, saying the chef had forgotten the marinade. Er, I ask, how can the chef forget the marinade - isn't the idea of a marinade that the, uh, meat sits for hours and hours in some kind of spiced bath? But, the husband let it pass, except after the waitress went back to her spot by the bar, he and M. and this other girl were making some strange joke about tastebuds and onions and tits, which had to be explained to me because they all involve the same word, lök, which means onion... it must be related somehow to the English word leek. And I learned that the word for tastebud is smaklök, which literally translated is taste onion. Kind of a strange concept, if you ask me, but then tastebud is kind of strange itself if you think about it.

So there you have it, two Swedish words for the price of one. - Francis S.

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