Friday, April 9, 2010

Take-Out Heaven

I speak Spanish. It's not perfect, but I'm fluent. It is very rare for me to have trouble understanding someone and vice versa. I have lived in or spent time in eight Spanish speaking countries. But let me tell you - Dominican Spanish is like no other. It frequently feels like they double the words necessary to get their point across and then cut out half the syllables. It's getting easier and easier, but one important task has eluded me - ordering take-out.

Let me start by saying one of the greatest things about this huge city (population roughly 2.2 million - the same as Houston) is that you can get
anything delivered. I'm not just talking about lunch or five-gallon water bottles. I'm talking about Kentucky Fried Chicken, your medicine, an egg, one beer, a box of band-aids. The deliverymen drive these little tiny motos and weave in and out of traffic like they're unstoppable. Unfortunately for me, I feel like up until this point we have largely missed out on the delivery utopia. That's mostly because it just seems so hard sometimes to have a conversation on the phone given the linguistic challenges I feel I face every time I have attempted take-out.

Tonight, I finally bit the bullet. There's no better time than the present and we're hungry. The boys are in bed early and I just really don't want to get in the car. Our food has not yet arrived, but if all goes well we will soon be eating egg rolls, fried rice (which they call Chow Fan here - Has anyone else ever heard of this? Is that what it's really called in China?), hot and sour soup with ice cold Presidente to wash it down. The ordering process went smoothly. There was a bit of catch when he took my phone number and then asked if it was my first time calling - I thought he asked for my first name. Nice guy, he just repeated himself a couple more times (not more slowly, but a bit more forcefully).

This is a milestone. I feel like I have the wind at my back and there is nothing stopping me. Tonight it's Chinese, tomorrow sushi? Empanadas? The possibilities are endless.


  1. Jodi, I recently found your blog. I'm an FSO wannabe from Austin!

    As to chao fan, yes, that is really how you say fried rice in Chinese--one of the few things I remember from my Chinese study days. "Fan" also means food, though, not just rice.

  2. Lisa - thanks for reading and thanks for the chao fan info. Good luck on your FSO process.

  3. way to go! hope it was yummy.

  4. I think talking on the phone is a lot harder than in person. I dreaded making phone calls in Trinidad, and people there speak English -- or at least a version thereof.

  5. The first thing I say when calling for food, is "May I order for delivery please?" in English. This lets the place know they've got a foreigner on the phone. If they can't understand English or mangled Arabic, they can immediately hand the phone to someone else. Saves us both time and confusion! I cooked by phone tonight. Grilled meats and mezze.. mmm!