Playing Charades with the Butcher / by Brea Persing

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When you live overseas, your pride falls away when you’re learning a new language. All of the sudden you go from a competent person (in your native language) to a toddler (in your new language) in a matter of seconds. It’s VERY humbling.

Well, it was my first Thanksgiving overseas where I was going to be cooking and inviting over a host of my new friends. Plus, my Italian friends were very interested in American holidays. I was still in my first year of Italian language learning and decided I would go to the butcher down the road to get some turkey. I was advised by some friends that if I wanted a whole turkey, which I didn’t, that I would have to go about a week in advance to order it. Well, I just wanted to get the breast and thigh/leg to cook for people. To be honest, I had never cooked the whole bird before, and didn’t want to start for this event, especially if something happened and it was inedible.

I knew the word for turkey in Italian, but when I arrived at the butcher shop, I realized that I had failed to look up the words for breast and thigh. Haha, you know where this is going. There wasn’t a line, so I didn’t have time to look it up on my phone either. So I was talking to him in Italian and said I wanted turkey for Thanksgiving. He understood since he knew it was an American holiday, and apparently had had other Americans in the past order turkey from him. Well, as I said before, I didn’t know the names of the cuts. So when he asked me what cuts I wanted, I threw my pride aside pointed at my breast to indicate I wanted a turkey breast. He chucked. As did I. He then asked me if I wanted any other cuts, and again, not knowing how to say them in Italian, I grabbed my thigh and rubbed by hand down my leg to indicate I wanted the whole thigh and leg. It was HILARIOUS. 

I’m sure the other Italians in the shop were getting some serious entertainment from me. The butcher told me to come back in a few days, as he was going to order those cuts specifically for me. When I walked in a few days later, he greeted me with a smile and then chuckled, so I knew he remembered me. I mean, how could you forget that!? He showed me the turkey cuts, made sure they were around the weight I wanted, I paid, said thank you and left. It had definitely been a funny learning incident, but I left with what I wanted!

I have to say, it’s definitely one of those stories to keep for the books to share later. And trust me, I have shared this story multiple times. It never gets old.