Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's the Quesadillio with Dumbass Tortilla Mispronunciation?

This post has been a long time coming; in fact, the subject was part of the inspiration for this blog. After the lunch service that I experienced today, I could wait no longer. I have to ask: what is the quesadillio with my customers' inability to pronounce "quesadilla"?

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:

quesadilla |ˌkāsəˈdēyə
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)
By far the most common, I used to have a horrible attitude about this one but now I respect it a bit more. At least customers are trying to pronounce the word phonetically, which is more than I can say for most of these verbal disasters.
  • Quesadillio (kāsəˈdil ēy ō)
I've already talked about this one. It makes me shake my head and want to cry.
  • Quesadiller (kāsə dilər
Really? Because it's not even close. Where's the "R? and what's with the soft "D"?
  • Quesado (kasad ō)
Go back and look at the actual word and then look again at this monstrosity. How many letters need to be removed and/or changed to get from Quesadilla to Quesado. I don't know if this is laziness, foolishness, or both. Your idea is as good as mine.
  • Quesadilia (kāsəˈdil ēy ə)
Very close to Quesadilio but not quite as funny because I can't make my standard P Diddy joke. The customer has to shorten an "L" and add a dot to get from the real to the mistake. Seems like a lot of effort.
  • Quesadiwa (kāsə dēwä)
Again, I shake my head. My best guess is that this customer is way too big of a fan of the priest from Princess Bride and purposely finds the letter "W" in every word (check out this link if you don't get the movie reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbqv3MwwVd8).

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.

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