This breakfast is GREAT except for the coffee
which is so bad I almost think someone is playing a weird joke
but is more probably a Greek preparer-of-morning-drink’s attempt at American filter coffee
without ever having tasted it
or talked to anyone who has.
The woman working the dining operation just caught me watching her bring Yaya a bowl of something brown, and she held it aloft and said to me “Sweet?” and I said “Okay!”
because what am I doing out here except saying yes to things I don’t understand
and she brought me a matching bowl and, setting it down, said, “Halvah”
which both pleased and dismayed me because I love halvah but definitely can’t eat eight ounces of it…
…and now I realize it’s not remotely a crumbly, flaky brick of ground sesame and honey
but some kind of semolina porridge
with cinnamon on top.
This is one of the things I find interesting in traveling and tasting the world in a linguistically anarchic way
that there are certain words I — we? — understand as evocative of a specific food item, and then you — we? — I — you — get to somewhere far away from where you started and find and ask for a food called by that word and what comes is something totally different, and at first you’re like “WTF this place has got it all wrong,” and then you come to understand that the *actual* word means something pertaining not to the product but to the process
or the texture
or the original ingredient
or some unknowable thing else that is broadly interpretable
and that you just happen to have come to expect this one certain version of
simply because it is the version that took hold in your particular sociocosm of origin.
“halvah” must at its roots mean something much less specific.