Dining recently in a restaurant where 95 percent of the menu was in English, I couldn’t help noticing that one of the main course dishes was described as ‘Seared scallops with boudin noir’.
I wondered if the chef had found that diners preferred the more elegant-sounding boudin noir to black pudding or blood sausage. It also reminded me of a breakfast I had in a hotel in Wells, Somerset.
At the table next to me, a Finnish couple was struggling with the English menu. Each time the waitress passed their table, they asked her to explain some unfamiliar item. On the fourth or fifth pass, the man flagged down the waitress and asked her to explain ‘black pudding supreme’.
‘It’s our local award-winning black pudding,’ the waitress said.
The man frowned. ‘And what is black pudding?’
‘Oh, you don’t want to know,’ the waitress said.
‘But I do,’ the man insisted.
‘Well,’ the waitress said, ‘it’s a sort of sausage.’
The man smiled. ‘Sausage is good.’
‘And it’s made from seasoned fat and congealed pig’s blood,’ the waitress added.
‘Oh,’ the man said sadly. ‘Blood sausage. You should have said. We have blood sausage in Finland too. Don’t worry; it’s no good there either.’
I guess the moral of the story is: For effective communication, it’s generally better not to beat about the bush too much.