Sunday, September 9, 2007

All for naught

Lately, I've had a hankering for a martini. I already had a bottle of gin, so this weekend I went to the supermarket to purchase some olives and a bottle of vermouth. Dry vermouth. The olives were easy, as you would expect, and the alcohol counter had four different types of vermouth. I have generally assumed that vermouth comes in two different varieties: dry (for martinis) and sweet (for leaving on the store shelf). Swiss supermarkets apparently split the world along different lines. Their display distinguished between rot (red) and weiss (white) vermouth. Rather than plunge headlong into the unknown and wind up with something undrinkable, I confronted the salesperson, in German no less, and asked whether any of the bottles contained dry vermouth. After a minute or so of mutually semi-intelligible mumbling, she decided that she didn't know, and asked another clerk. Another minute of garbled German later, and a third clerk was paged to the alcohol counter. And then paged again after five minutes of standing around uselessly. After he managed to communicate his unfamiliarity with the distinction between sweet and dry vermouth, I just bought a bottle marked Martini & Rossi, white. I know that Martini & Rossi makes the canonical vermouth, and I've never put anything red in a martini, so by the process of elimination, this seemed like a reasonable choice. Little did I know that the Italian company labels their sweet vermouth "bianco," and that in a country where an order for a "martini" in a bar produces a glass full of vermouth, rather than a glass of gin over which a closed bottle of vermouth has been quickly passed, supermarkets don't even carry dry vermouth, at least of the Martini & Rossi brand. Why, I am forced to ask, do I waste any time trying to learn German when it proves to be of so little use in practice?

In other news, Terminator 2 in German sounds completely and totally wrong. Arnold's Austrian accent is well enough preserved, but carefully crafted pithy phrases like "I'll be back" just don't translate.

1 comment:

Evan said...

Wikipedia seemed to indicate that white was at least mid-dry: I'm glad to see you learning German, though.