For longtime readers of this still-young blog, you might remember a story that I shared about a customer ordering a quesadillio. No, this customer was not P Diddy. It was an elderly woman who struggled to answer her friends' question about her order.
Customer: "I ordered a quesadiller... quesadill... quesa... I ordered a quesadillio!"
Remember this story? It's etched on my brain. But I won't be presumptuous. As a courtesy and to make sure we're on the same page, please observe the diacritical pronunciation and definition of the word quesadilla:
tortilla filled with cheese and heated.
Are we good so far? Fantastic! Before we move on, a confession. My Spanish language skills are abysmal, almost comical to hear in person. Some of my native Spanish-speaking coworkers are kind and patient enough with me to speak the language and try to teach me words, even sentences. Patient is the key word here because I am just so embarrassingly awful, especially considering I enrolled in classes from middle school through my first year of high school. That said, I have successfully ordered this cheesy treat since my tenth birthday. What was my secret, you might ask? Language lessons? Infused with a secret knowledge by aliens? Simple... I watched my first Taco Bell commercial. And I've been set ever since.
Unfortunately, it seems that an entire population of cafe visitors has never dined at or seen a commercial advertising my favorite fast food restaurant. What a shame, too! Does anyone else miss the chihuahua commercials? Me neither. But the food is very tasty and the commercials provide a valuable public service. Bronx and Westchester (mostly Westchester) counties are missing out.
It comes down to this. Quesadilla is not a new word. It's been around the good old US of A for a long time now. The concept shouldn't be new either. But, for my customers, it is. Some could not identify a tortilla in a police lineup. And many have to ask me if it is a hot or cold sandwich. Dear lord, it never ends! Here are some of the bizarre pronunciations (with the diacritical pronunciation marks) that I have encountered since it was added to the menu last fall:
- Quesadilla (kāsə dilə)
- Quesadillio (kāsəˈdil ēy ō)
- Quesadiller (kāsə dilər
- Quesado (kasad ō)
- Quesadilia (kāsəˈdil ēy ə)
- Quesadiwa (kāsə dēwä)
I heard four of these gaffes today alone. And yes, I did have fantasies of bludgeoning these people with whole wheat baguettes until they got the word right. Oh, a cook can dream...
But let's not stop there. I am compelled to share the most ridiculously culturally narrow-minded comment I have ever heard about a quesadilla. Four well-dressed, guessing mid-fifties women stepped on the line and, after perusing the menu, one said to the other, "Oh look, Mary. Quesadillas! They have ethnic food here!"
Even sadder than the comment? Even that woman got the word right.