Humor Ordering Pizza in Portuguese is a true story.
Barbara Dillon was on a trip around the world for a year by herself.
After spending three months in South America, traveling around Argentina, Chile, and Peru, she went on to Brazil to spend one more month -- before heading off to see the rest of the world.
In Brazil they speak Portuguese, but Barbara didn’t know any Portuguese.
She realized that most Brazilians did not understand English, but some did understand Spanish.
But she knew Portuguese was closely related to Spanish, and she had studied Spanish for three years in high school. And after three months in Spanish-speaking South America, she was becoming more proficient in that language every day. So she spoke Spanish as best she could.
She also knew that both Spanish and Portuguese were related to French, and she had studied French for two years while living in Paris. In fact, here in South America she would sometimes mistakenly mix in French words with her Spanish, but the Spanish-speaking South Americans always seemed to understand her.
All this made her hopeful that she could get by in Brazil using some mixture of Spanish and French in place of Portuguese.
As a vegetarian in predominately meat-eating South America, she was reduced to eating veggie pizzas three meals a day.
As a result, she was often hungry, and kept getting hungrier.
(See her story: “Humor Being Hungry in Spanish.”)
And she was getting bored with pizza.
After two months of eating pizza three bland meals a day, she was ready to try something slightly different, anything really, to spice it up.
One night in a small cafe she opened the menu. Determined to have something other than pizza she decided on pasta. So in her best Spanish she asked the waiter for spaghetti. He understood, which gave her confidence.
She decided to spice things up and order it with garlic on top.
Her waiter did not speak any English, and she did not know the Portuguese word for garlic.
But she did know the Spanish and French words for garlic. So when she ordered the garlic she must have used a combination of the two, but what came out seemed to confuse the waiter.
She repeated her request and still he seemed perplexed. Sure of her pronunciation, she impatiently repeated her order with a bit of an attitude.
Resigned to fill her order the waiter walked off scratching his head as he disappeared to the kitchen.
As she sat there she could hear a commotion coming from the kitchen -- muffled laughter and low mumbling.
When the waiter returned he placed a large platter of pasta in front of her.
She looked down and saw an egg sunny side up on top of her spaghetti.
Horrified, she pushed the plate away.
“No, NO,” she said. “I asked for garlic -- not egg. I don’t eat eggs, so please take it away.”
Now the waiter stood there dumbfounded. Frozen with confusion he did not know how to react.
A nice Brazilian couple who had witnessed the whole event, and spoke some English, came over to assist. Barbara asked why there was an egg on top of her pasta: “Is that normal”?
“Excuse me, miss, but what did you order.”
She repeated ‘garlic’ in her Fre-Spanglish.
Everyone started to laugh.
“The word you used is the Portuguese word for egg,” they chuckled.
Frustrated, she sent back the pasta -- and instead ordered a pizza.