Lessons for topic Life

Drink up!

Joselo's song titled Sobriedad ("sobriety") is dripping with references to booze. We counted seven kinds of alcoholic beverages in the lyrics: pisco sour, champaña, vino blanco, whiskey, vodka, gin and tonic, and vino tinto. Most of these drinks need no translation to English speakers, but we have a few tips for reading bar menus.

  • Pisco sour is claimed to be the national drink of both Chile and Peru. Both South American countries produce pisco -a type of brandy or liquor distilled from grapes, usually Quebranta or Muscat varieties.

  • Vino, as almost everyone knows, is "wine." This song mentions both white and red wine -- or, vino blanco y tinto. Tinto?, you may ask. Not rojo ("red")? Yes, you read that correctly. A common rookie error in Spanish is to assume "red wine" is vino rojo. But that order is more likely to get you some sort of rosé or vino rosado. Remember to use the word tinto to get your classic red wine.

  • Champaña sounds familiar, no? As you guessed, it's "Champagne" in English and the original French. It's also known as champán in the Spanish-speaking world.

Ok. Now whiskey, vodka and gin and tonic are just what you think they are. Incidentally, "whiskey" (pronounced 'wee-skee') is often what you say when someone takes your photo, in order to smile as wide in Spanish as you do in English when you say "cheese."

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Monte de Piedad: Merciful pawn shops

Monte de Piedad
[Caption 4, Control Machete > El Apostador]

Monte de Piedad translates litterally to "Mount of Mercy," which sounds like a religiously inspired exclamation use to punctuate this tale of gaming overindulgence; it is in fact the name of Mexico's facinating chain of state-run and state-controlled pawn shops. These exist throughout the country and are actively used by a surprisingly large percentage of the Mexican population on a fairly regular basis.

An excellent write-up including a modern account and full history:
http://www.mexconnect.com/MEX/jrose/jjrpiedad.html
Also worth reading:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1280276,00.html

(Oddly enough, while there is talk of a comebcak and current debate, Mexico has not had full-time legal casinos since 1935 -- so Control Machete is either way ahead of the curve or got their inspiration north of the Rio Grande.)

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