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29 May 2006

Quote of the day

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 7:27 pm

Overheard from person in front of me at Subway, when asked whether he’d like oil and vinegar:

“I don’t know. Is it good? I don’t know. What is vinegar? Hey Jim [fictional name of friend], is oil and vinegar good? Whatever. Just … whatever.”

Yes, that’s right, “What is vinegar?” He was speaking in a normal American-English-as-a-first-language accent, and looked about college age.


EDIT: See second comment below. Ah, culture shock…

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  1. I don’t know. I think it’s entirely conceivable that someone could grow up and not know what vinegar is. Even more conceivable would be to know what vinegar is but to never knowlingly have tasted it. I know that I almost never have vinegar by itself. Of course, I do have it all the time as an ingredient in things like ketchup or barbecue sauce (or really, really bad cheap wine).

    Anyway, you could have had some fun with him and mentioned that vinegar is a dilute solution of acetic acid.

    Comment by Adam — 29 May 2006 @ 8:31 pm

  2. This is very interesting! So it really seems that this is much more an example of cultural differences: it seems vinegar is very rare as a seperate ingredient in the US. Am I right here? In which case, as you say, it’s a perfectly reasonable comment of his — rather like my bewilderment about the concept of chili (chilli?) that can be put on hotdogs (!). Turns out it isn’t an actual self contained, fiery, chili pepper. Things make more sense now…

    In South Africa, vinegar is common as a seperate condiment, and also in potato crisp flavours like “salt and vinegar”.

    So all I’m really managing to prove is my lack of US knowledge. In between feeling bad about my lack of physics knowledge!

    Comment by paulcook — 30 May 2006 @ 1:29 am

  3. It might not be used as a seperate condiment, but it’s still pretty common. I mean, who *hasn’t* done the baking soda/vinegar volcano thing? Even if you have somehow avoided doing any cooking at all while growing up, surely you would encounter it somewhere in your K-12 education, studying chemical reactions and whatnot.

    And we do have salt & vinegar flavored potato chips, but they are not as common as other flavors.

    (Skyline spells it “chili”)

    Comment by Ellen — 30 May 2006 @ 11:37 am

  4. Sadly, I didn’t encounter vinegar in my k-12 ed…but I still know what it is! Don’t feel badly, Paul — I’d be laughing at the Subway guy too.

    I’m now wondering about that volcano thing…so baking soda and vinegar do something nifty together? Hmmm. Bad Catholic School education strikes again.

    Comment by raccoon — 30 May 2006 @ 11:48 am

  5. Baking Soda (NaHCO3) + Vinegar (CH3COOH) –>
    NaCH3COO (Sodium Acetate) + H2O + CO2

    It’s a pretty simple acid+base reaction that gives off lots of gas, typically resulting in an explosion of foam and a very messy kitchen/driveway/classroom.

    Comment by Adam — 30 May 2006 @ 2:15 pm

  6. Yep, just add some food coloring and a model volcano, and presto! Instant science fair exhibit.

    Comment by Ellen — 30 May 2006 @ 4:55 pm

  7. And for lots of mess add a little bit of dish washing liquid as well :)

    Comment by Paul F — 31 May 2006 @ 3:03 am

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