Zucker quest

| March 18, 2013

Well, the supermarket conversation revolving around my search for powdered sugar was…interesting. It started with one stock girl who had no idea what I was asking for, as I asked in German but said that in English it was “powdered” sugar. She pointed to regular sugar. I told her it wasn’t normal sugar like for in coffee. I pointed to several German dessert boxes with pictures of cakes sprinkled in powdered sugar and told her it was that.

I told her it looks more like flour, not like regular sugar. She of course immediately showed me the flour. I told her it’s sugar that’s like (in English) powder (gesturing puffing powder on my face). She turned and yelled for someone, asking if they spoke English, and when they said no, she shot back, “No? But yes, just a little?”

The other girl came and–guess what?–recognized the only American in the neighborhood. “Ah, Hallo…”

I went through the same game, with a little more English thrown in, still with no success. Told her you can (while gesturing) sprinkle it on things, or you can make icing with it.

The non-English speaker had of course stayed for the show. If only you could have seen her face when I used the example “like what you use on a baby’s butt.” (Backpedaling: “No, no, that’s not what I’m doing with the sugar.”)

Then, I told her it’s called confectioner’s sugar, too. We found some confectioner’s sugar. Apple flavored. Then gelatin confectioner’s sugar. Four or five kinds of granular-feeling, weirdly-described sugar called confectioner’s sugar.

Nein, danke.

Finally, hidden in a back corner, I saw half a row of tiny boxes of…Puder Zucker. Recognizing, you know, words that are practically the same, I read it and announced with glee, “Puder Zucker!” Yeah…it’s called Puderzucker, and powder = Puder. Even the Puder you put on your face. Just sayin’.

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Category: In Germany A Broad blog, Linguistics, Shits & Giggles

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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