nedelja, 24. oktober 2010

On doughnuts, baby-toy jewelry, body shapes and historical mishaps

by ekaterina (cross balkan blogging)

Recently, I came across a mini-sized, but quite realistic, rubber doughnut, sitting on the table at my house. Most probably left behind by my four-year old nephew during his last visit. Inspired by one of the Melina’s transformation of children’s toys into jewelry, I decided to make it into a necklace and was quite happy with the results.

I was also reminded of the time the two Melinas and I were in Izola. Among all the other things we did to entertain ourselves, we played a game where we would imagine that our bodies would take the shape of the food we ate most. In between the running around, we (ok, mostly I) would sneak into the snack room and stuff our faces with powder-sugar-coated, jam-filled doughnuts that redefined deliciousness and challenged conceptions of normal calorie-intake. Hands down, if our imaginary game were true, I would have become a round doughnut. Not that, in reality, by the end of the festival I didn’t feel like I was rolling around Izola’s streets anyway.

In Germany, doughnuts of this kind are known as “Berliners.” Like hamburgers or wieners, they would have been just another food named after a city, and simply an example of the German mastery of the art of pastries. That is, if it wasn’t for US President John F.Kennedy, who – in a speech demonstrating the US support for Soviet-occupied West Berlin in 1963, shot the pastry into infamy.

The commonly circulated and widely pushed story is that, when saying “Ich bin ein Berliner,” Kennedy in fact referred to himself as “a jam doughnut,” instead of a citizen of Berlin, as he intended for his statement of solidarity with West Berliners. The correct thing to say, according to this version, would have been “Ich bin Berliner.” This account has become so popular that souvenir shops in Berlin now sell tin boxes replicas of the Berliner doughnuts.

As hilarious as that story is, however, it turns out it isn’t true. The phrase, as said by Kennedy, was in fact correct. According to linguistic experts, since the US President was speaking in the figurative sense – he was not literally from Berlin but was only declaring his solidarity with its citizens, omitting the indefinite article ein and saying “Ich bin Berliner” would have been incorrect.

And, just to share one last curious fact. According to the explanation printed inside my Berliner tin box, these doughnuts are called Berliner in all of Germany, except for Berlin, where they are known as “Pfannkuchen.” Don’t you just feel enlightened now?

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