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Archive for April, 2011

I think winter is finally behind us. The first sign of spring is represented by something different to everyone. For some it’s the first pitch of the baseball season. For others it’s the tiny buds appearing on naked tree branches. For me, it’s always been when the Passover products start to appear in my local supermarket.

Canada is officially a bilingual country. By law, all packaging (not just food) must display its information in both English and French.  However, most of the items for Passover come directly from the United States without having special labels created for the Canadian market. I guess they’re considered special items. So, for the eight days of Passover not only is my kitchen purged of all products containing leavening agents but also the English/French branding I normally see.

Passover products with English only labels

For example, my Streit’s® Egg Matzah box does not feature a side saying ‘Matzah de oeuf’, or something like that. I know my French speaking readers are laughing at my French right now, but I think they’ve been mad at me since I made light of the poutine a few weeks back.

I am not knocking bilingual labelling. In fact, I have learned a great deal of French because of this. Much more than I ever learned from forced French classes in school. For instance, I know ‘Sans graisse’ means Fat Free. From the world of frozen dinners, I also know that ‘poulet’ is chicken, ‘dinde’ is turkey and ‘boeuf’ is beef. Although something tells me you don’t require a degree in French linguistics to figure that last one out. I have even at times been able to follow a simple recipe following the French directions if I managed to rip or obscure the English side when opening the package.

Although Passover products do not usually feature the French language, many are imported from Israel and are printed in both English and Hebrew, allowing me to brush up on the classic language. Sadly my Hebrew skills are about as lacking as my French. My Hebrew lessens ended with my Bat Mitzvah and I have been relying on my memory since then.

I want to wish everyone who celebrates this spring holiday a very Happy Passover. Or if I am trying to be multilingual, Joyeux Pesach.

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