The Word on the Street Is . . . “Beurre de Peanut”

Montreal Translation SyllabusAs an anglo from BC, I moved to Montreal with the best of intensions—putting my schoolgirl French to the test, immersing myself in the culture of the city, and most of all, learning the street lingo—the French that true Montrealers speak.

After countless university courses, crappy jobs, and one or two summer flings with Quebecers, I thought I had a firm grip on what being a Montrealer was all about. With each passing year I felt more fluent, less textbooky. I felt that, after years of being on the outside, l could finally blend.

That said, there were always those instances when I was reminded that no amount of earnestness could get me into the inner circle. Recently at the office, I was heading to the lunchroom with some co-workers. I must add that I’m often embarrassed about how meager and lame my lunches are (I’m famous for continuing my school-day tradition of the peanut butter sandwich and a piece of fruit) compared to the elaborate concoctions of my co-workers.

But today I didn’t care. I shamelessly pulled out my peanut butter sandwich and apple and set them on the communal table. A co-worker asked me what my sandwich was. “Beurre d’arachide,” I replied with gusto. She gave me a quizzical look. I held up my sandwich for her inspection.

She laughed and said, “Oh, you mean beurre de peanut!”

Indeed, I did. Fifteen years in the Belle Province and I’m still learning that being a Montrealer isn’t about mastering French and English separately—it’s about embracing that beautiful blend of the two.

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