Archive for March, 2007

19th Mar 2007

Mandarin Lessons: the prequel

Today, I met my new Mandarin teacher. I say “new” because we tried to hire another one. Sadly, the first teacher had assimilated so much to Brazilian culture we found that he wouldn’t really meet our needs. He canceled the first lesson the day before. After waiting for fifteen minutes into our second lesson, we called him and he informed us that the time we’d set up wasn’t good for him. Clearly not wanting to offend us early on, he had not mentioned this little complication when we initially set up the lessons.

Anyway, our new teacher is originally from Taiwan and apparently speaks about four languages, one of which is English, which is handy. He teaches at the Federal University here and is supposedly quite good. Though he speaks English, all his course material is from Portuguese to Mandarin, so really it’s like a double language lesson.

He informed me today that the people in Xiamen speak an entirely different language than Mandarin. Since Mandarin is technically the official language of the country, he seems to think that it is still worth my time to learn. Though he did inform me that I will notice when I arrive in Xiamen that the people mix the two languages. With all the tonal inflections, thousands of characters and numerous meanings for each sound, I’m sure I’ll pick up on that dialect difference right away.

Stay tuned for more wacky adventures in language learning (butchering)!

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11th Mar 2007

Kerbey/Magnolia Gingerbread Pancakes

I found my new favorite website today. Homesick Texan brings me both joy and sadness. The author is a Texan living in New York who misses the wonders of Texan cooking. Living here for four years, I’d even forgotten that I missed some of the things she mentions. Some of these things like Rotel are impossible to find here. But thankfully, she does also include recipes for things like kolaches, tortillas, chicken fried steak, pimento cheese and of course gingerbread pancakes from Magnolia Cafe. For just a second this morning, as I savored my giant gingerbread pancake, I almost thought I was back in Austin at 3:00 in the morning on a Saturday. Ahh, good times.

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