Oh, Mum, I wish we could go out to a restaurant for dinner.
I know. It’s not a good time to do that now though. When the weather improves, perhaps we could go to one with a patio. I’ll let you take me out for my birthday.
And I’ll let you take me out for mine!
Nothing gets by you, does it, Lila? It’s a deal! You treat me for my birthday and I’ll treat you for yours! We can start saving now and splurge when the spring and summer come.
Okay, but I still have some Christmas money left over, so maybe next time we go skating at the Oval, we could treat ourselves to a pastry and some hot chocolate.
That sounds like a great plan. We haven’t been skating in ages. And I’m more than happy to treat you to a hot chocolate right now, here at home, if you’d like.
That would be lovely.
Mum – why is the Oval called “the Oval”?
Well, I suppose simply because it is oval in shape. It is what they call skating rinks used for speed skating. Our oval in Halifax is called the Emera Oval, because it is partially funded by a company called Emera, though really, taxpayers fund most of the Oval’s operations and maintenance. It used to be called the Canada Games Oval, because it was built to host the long track speed skating events for the 2011 Canada Games, which took place in Halifax.
Oh, of course – didn’t you say you went skating at the Olympic Oval when you visited Ewa?
Yes, the Olympic Oval, that was so much fun. Ewa and Tony took me to the Olympic Oval in Calgary – that one was built to host speed skating at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. That was my very first time on speed skates. And possibly my last. They certainly feel a lot different than figure skates. It’s a whole different technique.
We have to do more figure skating, Mum. Or hockey skating.
Oh my goodness – I’ve only been on hockey skates once in my life and let me tell you, that was an experience! I think I’ll stick to figure skates – I like my toe picks -, but if you want to try out some hockey skates, I’m sure some of your brothers’ old pairs will fit now. And your father can help you out! After all, he’s spent his whole life playing hockey.
But I thought Daddy was a goalie – they don’t skate very much do they? And his skates are different too.
Well, yes and no. They might not skate very much during a game, but they still need excellent skating skills to make those split-second decisions and saves. And besides that, he was a forward before he went into nets, but like most artists, goal-tending seemed to appeal to him more than being in the thick of things out front.
Is it true that Grampie didn’t want him to play nets?
Well, as I understand it, Daddy was a very good forward – he was on the first line and one of the leading scorers in the peewee league when he was little, so of course his parents wanted him to excel, but he really wanted to play nets, so one time when Grampie was away on a business trip, he went into nets and never turned back.
Sneaky! I like it!
I guess we know where you get it from!
You’re absolutely right, though, we need to get out skating more. What kind of Canadians are we, if we can’t jump out on a frozen lake and zip around?
Too bad about global warming.
I think we still have a few decent winters ahead of us – and if the lakes don’t freeze, there’s always the community arena.
Okay, it’s a plan. More skating!
Speaking of warming, Mum, I think you mentioned something about hot chocolate.
I did indeed. Let me put the water on to boil.
Actually, Mum, I have a brilliant idea – let’s pretend that we are at a restaurant – you can be the server or waiter – whichever term you like better – since you’re doing the job, you can choose how people refer to you, or the cook or chef, or the host – what is it called again? – the maître d’ – or you can be everyone – and I’ll be your guest. I’m getting hungry already.
Ah, very well then.
Good afternoon Mademoiselle. Welcome to Chez Maman. Do you have a reservation for this afternoon?
Yes, indeed I do.
May I please have your name?
I am Eliza Doolittle.
Ah, of course! Miss Doolittle. And how many are in your party today, Mademoiselle Doolittle?
Just me. And that’s Madame Doolittle. I’m treating myself to an afternoon out, away from the children. You may call me Ms.
Lovely. This way please, Ms. Doolittle.
Mum – why are so many restaurant words in French?
It’s kind of like ballet.
Good question. I suspect the details of the answer will require some research, but French cuisine is certainly considered to be among the best in the world, and cooking terms used in many languages are often of French origin. Sometimes the French words come to mind more quickly than the English ones do. Like bon appétit.
You’re right! How do you even say bon appétit in English?
Enjoy your meal!
It does sound much more distinguished in French.
Very well then, Madame maître d’ – that means host, right?
Yes, technically it is short for maître d’hôtel, which literally means ‘master of the house’, but now it’s usually used to refer to the head of dining-room staff, like a head waiter or host. Basically, the manager of a fancy restaurant.
Okay, that sounds right.
I am ready to be seated, Madame maître d’.
Very well then, please follow me.
Here you go Ms. Doolittle. The best seat in the house for our most distinguished guest.
Why thank you. This is perfect. I love the view.
On the menu today, we have macaroni and cheese, pasta marinara or a greek salad with garlic bread on the side.
Oh, that all sounds good. I’ll have to think about it. I’ll let you know when I am ready to order. Do you have any soup? I’d love a bowl of soup to start.
We do indeed. I have a chicken noodle soup, tomato bisque or potage aux legumes.
Potage aux legumes?
A thick, pureed vegetable soup. Very filling, if I do say so myself.
Thank you, but I think I’ll go with the chicken noodle soup to start, please.
Very well. And may I interest you in an hors d’oeuvre?
Hors d’oeuvre, what’s that?
An appetizer, or starter, before your soup? (Hors d’oeuvre is also a French word, but English speakers have changed the pronunciation – in French it sounds more like hors d’oeuvre.)
Oh, yes, please! What’s on the menu for starters?
We have, today, sliced veggies with asiago artichoke dip; dolmas, otherwise known as stuffed grape leaves, or an assortment of mini phyllo pastry appetizers with cheese, spinach, asparagus and shrimp.
My mouth is watering already! I think I’ll have the veggies and artichoke dip today, but I’ll definitely be back, maybe at suppertime, for the phyllo pastries – maybe we could make an entire meal of that!
As you wish, Madame. I’ll put this order in and get things started. Would you like a drink while you wait?
I would, but I’ll save the hot chocolate for dessert so that I don’t spoil my appetite. Just water for now, please.
Sparkling or still?
Umm – Mummy – you might be taking this fine dining thing a little too far….
Fizzy or regular?
Oh, sparkling of course. With a slice of lemon, please. No – make that lime. And feel free to bring the starter and soup at the same time. I’m really, really hungry.
Yes ma’am. I’ll just be a moment.
Okay, thank you.
I think I could get used to this fine dining business! All in the comfort of my own living room!
Your water Madame.
And your appetizers. Your soup will be out momentarily. Bon appétit!
Oh, thank you. The vegetables are cut in such pretty shapes too – it looks like a happy face. I love the radish stars for eyes. And the carrot hair.
We’ve gone all out for our best customer.
Your soup Madame. Be very careful, it’s quite hot.
Thanks for the warning. It smells very good! (mmm…yum…slurp)
How is everything tasting so far?
It’s great. The soup really hits the spot.
Oh, and I have decided on my main course. I’ll have the Greek salad please, with extra olives and not too much feta, and extra garlic butter for the toast, please. Could I have my bread toasted?
Absolutely. Would you like a full-sized or side salad?
Good question. I am getting a little full and I need to save some room for dessert, so let’s go with the side salad, please. After all, I know where to get more if I want.
Oh, and I know it’s not traditional, but could I have a little avocado in my salad too?
Of course. Anything your heart desires.
Your salad madame. Enjoy your meal!
Merci beaucoup! That’s thank you very much in French!
Mmm. This is delicious, but I’m getting full. Could I have a container so that I can take what’s left to go, please?
Certainly, I’ll pack this up for you right away.
And I’m not even hungry enough for dessert! The world is ending! I can come back for dessert, right?
But I will have the hot chocolate with whipped cream on top!
And the bill please. I’m in a bit of a hurry. My favourite movie is starting on TV in a few minutes.
Of course. Right away, Madame.
Here is your hot chocolate. Luckily you can enjoy it from the comfort of your own couch while you watch your movie. One of the many benefits of restaurant Chez Maman!
And here is your bill Madame.
Hee-hee. Three hugs, a cuddle and a mini in-house piano recital. That sounds more than reasonable. Is service included, or shall I leave a tip?
Tips are much appreciated. Service is not included in the bill.
Perfect – here’s your tip – [kiss, kiss, kiss], and if the hot chocolate is really good and I get some rainbow sprinkles on the whipped cream – maybe I’ll even give you a little dance recital as a tip.
Why thank you. That’s so generous of you.
Okay Mum, your shift is over – you’re mum again – grab a blanket, make yourself some hot chocolate and sit down – the movie is about to start! Don’t forget the whipped cream with sprinkles!
Will do. What a great end to a lovely meal!
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