Saturday, 29 March 2014

Some tasteless humour

© David Mullineaux

The above photo was featured in the The Telegraph's Sign Language special photo gallery on toilet humour with the caption 'The world is your urinal'. 'Sign Language' is a picture gallery where readers send in amusing photos of strange signs and bizarre translations in the UK and around the world which are published each week. Pisse en l'air is a small waterfall on Reunion, in the cirque (natural amphitheatre) of Salazie, but ironically it's not the waterfall shown, which is actually 640m-high Cascade Blanche. Pisse en l'air literally means 'piss in the air' and it is another smaller waterfall renowned for falling from a cliff onto the road - and onto your car if you happen to be driving by underneath (make sure you keep your car windows closed!).

Something else that frequently amuses non-French visitors to Reunion is Le Tampon - this is the name of a town and municipality in the south of the island, not far from the volcano.

Le Tampon logo

While 'tampon' only has one meaning in English, in French it has several meanings,  including 'buffer' or 'stamp', however in this particular case no one is exactly sure of the town name's origin. There are several theories:
- Tampony is a Malagasy word which means 'viewpoint', or 'summit that can be seen from afar';
- it could come from tampon de combat, or 'shot plug', a type of stopper used to seal a projectile hole in a ship's hull during combat, and/or tampon d'écubier, which was a 'hawse-plug' or 'buckler' (a block used to stop up a hawse hole at sea);
- documents dating from 1727 mention a small river gully known as the Ravine du Tampon, so known because a tampon de hublot, or 'porthole stopper', had been placed there as a landmark. 

Keeping with the theme of toilet humour, I saw this sign in the lavatory on an Air Koryo flight when I was flying back to Beijing from Pyongyang (it also featured in The Telegraph’s ‘Sign Language’ photo gallery):

Hips don't fly

 Still on matters of taste, what about this on a Delhi restaurant drinks menu:

Name your poison - toxic or tonic?

Back in Reunion a restaurant in Saint Denis has these offerings on its menu:

Drop in for dinner?

For those that don’t speak French the Crotin [sic] de Chèvre Chaud should be ‘Warm Goat’s Cheese’ in English and not ‘dung’! (These photos were also featured in The Telegraph’s ‘Sign Language’ ‘Best of January 2014′ photo gallery).

Here Souris [d'agneau] (knuckle of lamb) has been translated literally as ‘mouse’:

Puts a ro-dent in your appetite?

Things have improved however, as a few years ago filet was translated thoughout as ‘net’ instead of ‘fillet’, and cabot de fond (a type of fish) was translated as ‘dog bottom’!

Related links:

Saturday, 22 March 2014

My list of unique eating places

A chance question on Facebook recently asking about my favourite restaurant got me thinking - do I have a favourite eating place? On reflection I realised I don't as there are too many to choose from. There are many restaurants I've enjoyed for different reasons, depending on whether I was looking for relaxation, luxury or a fantastic view. So here are some of my favourites:

  • Most 'desert island' - during one of my trips to the Maldives in 2005 I stayed on board the Four Seasons Explorer. One evening we were taken to a deserted island where the crew dug seating into the sand. When we arrived back on the ship later the remaining crew members played us music on local instruments. A truly magical evening.

Eating temple food at Gilsangsa, Seoul

one of the dinners I had in North Korea

one of my lunches in North Korea

  • Most northerly - lunch in the Icelandic town of Akureyri which is 65°N. We had spent the day diving in the nearby fjord.
  • Highest altitude (on land) - any of the meals we had in Tibet which has an average elevation exceeding 4,500 metres (14,800 ft).

hammock restaurant near Tonle Sap, Cambodia

  • Highest above ground - in April 2011 we were lucky enough to spend two nights in what was then the world's tallest hotel above ground - the Shanghai Park Hyatt. Our room was on the 81st floor and meals were in the restaurants on the 87th and 91st floors - almost 400 metres above ground.
  • Highest on a building roof - in 2009 we were in Bangkok on my birthday and to celebrate we had dinner at the open-air Vertigo restaurant of the Banyan Tree Hotel, located on the hotel's 61st floor.

    a vertigo-inducing dinner?

my favourite dessert

What about you? Do you have any unique eating places to share?