Wednesday, November 14, 2012

can I borrow a cup of oil?

In all of my years of baking, I have never been that person that had to go to the neighbors to borrow a cup of sugar or whatever else. I kind of always thought that it was an urban legend. Or something that only happens in tv shows or rom-coms. Until last night when I was baking pumpkin bread and was just short of vegetable oil. Not wanting to abandon my recipe mid-project, I put on my fancy clothes (read: Old Navy flannel pj pants and sock money socks) and went to the downstairs neighbors to "borrow" a cup of oil. (Side note: but why do people say borrow instead of take? Does anyone expect to return the cup of insertperishableproducthere?)

Our neighbors speak two languages- Portuguese and German. Guess which two languages (among many others) I don't speak? Portuguese and German. There was a lot of improvised sign language, some broken French on both sides, and a lot of confusion all around.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: (showing him cup) Essig bitte (turns out Essig is German for vinegar, NOT oil, that could have been bad!)
Him: zucker? 
Me: kein zucker, essig ohne oliven (translation- no sugar, vinegar without olives)
Him: honig? (honey)

Lather, rinse, repeat this song and dance in both German and French for the next 5 minutes until his wife figured out what I wanted and produced a bottle of oil. I think he was trying to say that we can keep the bottle of oil that they gave us. Either that or he will break both of my husband's legs if we don't return it 5 minutes ago.

Moral of this story: learn German ASAP.


  1. Would have paid money to see that one. You should have tried the russian, maybe they knew a little of that.

  2. My mother in law was German. She and her all friends would just talk away and I never knew what they were saying. I feared they were talking about me in front of me and I would have no idea! I took 2 semesters of German in college. Comes in handy!

  3. Hahaha i am impressed that you managed to get your point across!

  4. We were out of oil recently too!

  5. We used to borrow eggs/sugar/flour from our neighbors (and vice versa) growing up but I've never thought to ask people in my apartment building.

    Glad you finally got what you needed!