Got The Meat And Potatoes Of The Meaning

| CT, USA | Working | April 3, 2014

(My Muslim coworker from Bangladesh has brought in food for lunch for our group. Afterwards she and I are talking about ethnic foods and meat content. She brought up how a lot of Indian food doesn’t have meat because the Muslim population doesn’t eat pork and the Hindu population doesn’t eat beef.)

Me: “Yeah, Indian is the only type of food that I really enjoy vegetarian entrees. Most other foods are boring without meat.”

Coworker: “Oh, I know! I can’t eat a meal without meat in it!”

Me: “Yeah. Me, too. I’m a cannibal.”

(There is what feels like a long pause as I realize what I said, when what I’d meant to say was carnivore. Embarrassed beyond belief, and hoping nobody in our very open environment overheard and thought I was serious, she asks:)

Coworker: “Cannibal means you eat meat, right?”

(English is not her native language, and I can understand how cannibal might not be in her vocabulary yet. I quickly correct myself and explain the meaning of carnivore vs. cannibal, with a little explanation of herbivore and omnivore for good measure. Once I finally shut up and look to see if she understands, she comes up with the best response possible.)

Coworker: “Well, it’s still meat.”

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