Please Pass the Carp

Every Christmas I’m always asked how I celebrate. Will we have some Australian traditions? And do I eat carp? I’ve

To set the record straight means to fix a misunderstanding or to make sure the facts have been told

been asked these questions so often I thought it was time to set the record straight. The answer to the first question is not really. As for the second: yes, I do. And yes, I enjoy it. But for me Christmas is more than just the food on the table.

I know my feelings about carp put me in a minority among many foreigners. People from English speaking countries really seem to hate carp. I’m not going to say how great the fish is. I know plenty of Czechs who don’t eat it either. My mother-in-law is not fond of carp and eats it more out of tradition. And I think it is this attitude; a willingness to observe a harmless tradition, which has made me come to appreciate the whole Czech Christmas, carp and all.

Temporal sequence of English: The author wrote ‘My feelings changed quite quickly when I moved here and met my future wife. For her and her family, Christmas was an important holiday. It was an occasion to be together and enjoy traditions….’was and still is ….. past tense is used because it is temporal sequence of English

Now this attitude is quite strange for me. I’m not what I would describe as a traditionalist. Christmas was just another holiday when I was growing up, and after I left home I rarely observed it. My feelings changed quite quickly when I moved here and met my future wife. For her and her family, Christmas was an important holiday. It was an occasion to be together and enjoy traditions. Before Christmas dinner, my father-in-law and my wife’s grandfather get very excited about the fish. They talk with real gusto about the carp and afterwards tell anyone who will listen how delicious they thought it was. It was all very sincere and honest and I was trapped like the festive fish.

In the beginning, I was nervous. I enjoyed the potato salad with pickles, mayo and mustard immediately, but when it came to my first Christmas carp – I was imaging something smelly and before the first bite was sure I would hate it. Cautiously I brought a forkful to my mouth and discovered – well – it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t Atlantic salmon but it wasn’t repulsive.

I’m sure my in-laws would accommodate my country’s traditions if I wanted, but I think it would spoil the atmosphere. The delight of the holiday is the shared experience and I know I’m not going to deny my father-in-law his carp. More important to me is spending Christmas with people who really enjoy the holiday.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

Please Pass the Carp Quiz: Medium

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Every Christmas people ask me how I celebrate. Will we have some Australian traditions? And do I eat carp? And they´ve asked me so often  I thought it was time time to explain it. The answer to the first question is not really. As for the second: yes, I eat carp. And yes, I enjoy it. But for me Christmas is more than just the food on the table.

I know that many foreigners do not understand my feelings. People from English speaking countries really seem to hate carp. I’m not going to say how great the fish is. I know plenty of Czechs who don’t eat it either. My mother-in-law doesn´t like carp much and eats it because it is a tradition.

I’m not a traditionalist. Christmas was just another holiday when I was growing up, and after I left home I rarely celebrated it. My feelings changed quite quickly when I moved here and met my future wife. For her and her family, Christmas was an important holiday. It was an occasion to be together and enjoy traditions. Before Christmas dinner, my father-in-law and my wife’s grandfather get very excited about the fish.

In the beginning, I was nervous. I enjoyed the potato salad with pickles, mayo and mustard immediately, but – my first Christmas carp – I was imaging something smelly and before the first bite was sure I would hate it. Carefully I discovered that it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t Atlantic salmon but it wasn’t disgusting.

If something is spoiled, like food, it means it can no longer be eaten. To spoil something means to ruin it
Usage of would: This is a time sequence sentence – will changes to would: ‘I was imaging something smelly and before the first bite was sure I would hate it.’ This sentence is an example of a conditional sentence: ‘I think it would spoil the atmosphere.’

I’m sure my in-laws would accept my country’s traditions if I wanted, but I think it would spoil the atmosphere. I know I’m not going to deny my father-in-law his carp. More important to me is spending Christmas with people who really enjoy the holiday.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

Please Pass the Carp Quiz: Mild

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With Christmas approaching one question I’m asked is how I celebrate.  Will we have some Australian traditions? And do

To set the record straight means to make sure that an account, etc., is correct

I eat carp? I’ve been asked these questions so often since living here I thought it was time I set the record straight. The answer to the first one is a qualified not really. As for the second: yes, yes, I do. And yes, I enjoy it. But for me Christmas is more than just about the food on the table.

I know my attitude toward carp puts me in a minority, at least among the foreigners I know. Going on some of the virulent opinions expressed on forums, I’d say that I’m probably in a minority even among the foreigners I don’t know. People from English speaking countries really seem to hate carp.

I’m not going to try and sing the fish’s praises. I know plenty of Czechs who don’t eat it either. My mother-in-law is not overly fond of carp and eats it more out of tradition. And I think it is this attitude; a willingness to observe a harmless tradition, which has made me come to appreciate the whole Czech Christmas, carp and all.

Now this attitude is quite strange for me. I’m not what I would describe as a traditionalist. Christmas was just another holiday when I was growing up, and after I left home I rarely observed it. While at uni and living away from home, I even worked on a couple of Christmases. The money was good and it was much easier than bothering with organizing lunch. On an earlier occasion, a housemate and I rechristened the day ‘sci-fi day’ and watched Star Trek all day, not wanting to be bothered by the whole ordeal at all.

My feelings changed quite quickly upon moving here and meeting my future wife. For her and her family, Christmas was an important holiday. It was an occasion to be together, enjoy each other’s company and the pleasure of simple traditions. In the lead up to Christmas dinner my father-in-law and my wife’s grandfather would get quite excited about the fish. They continue to do so. They talk with real gusto about the carp and later recount to anyone who will listen how delicious they thought that year’s was. As shocking as it sounds, it was all very earnest and wholesome and I was ensnared like the festive fish.

Admittedly I was not an easy convert. The potato salad filled with pickles, mayo and mustard, won me over after the very first mouthful but when it came to my first Christmas carp – well let’s just say I had a lot of cultural prejudice to overcome. Bear in mind up until this point I only knew carps as the unwanted cousins of goldfish, too large and too ugly to keep as pets. I’d never seen a common carp – let alone tasted one.

Yet, I could already imagine the rank taste of a stagnant pond or something akin to spoiled fish. Or worse. Even before I had taken a bite I was absolutely convinced of how revolting it would be. Gingerly I brought a forkful to my mouth and discovered – well – it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t Atlantic salmon but it wasn’t repulsive. It had a strong fish taste, which is understandable since it is fish.

To bear in mind means to hold in one’s mind; remember

Since then I’ve looked forward to the meal. I’ve eaten carp on other occasions and have tried it prepared in a variety of ways and at different times through the year. My favourite carp recipe is the Hungarian spicy carp soup called halászlé, but at Christmas it is the breaded and fried variety we partake in.

When-in-Rome is an English proverb that means when you should behave as those around you are. The entire phrase is ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ It comes from medieval Latin and was attributed to St. Ambrose, an Italian archbishop from the 4th century. The Czech equivalent would be Koho polévku jíš, toho píseň zpívej.

I’m sure my in-laws would accommodate my country’s traditions if I wanted, but I think it would spoil the atmosphere. The delight of the holiday is the shared experience and I know I’m not going to deny my father-in-law his carp. But it’s more than a ‘when-in-Rome’ rationale.

Christmas didn’t mean that much to me before I got here. Spending it with people who really enjoy the holiday meant that I wanted to enjoy what they were enjoying. For this reason the food and the date when the gifts are brought and who we pretend brings them didn’t matter and continues not to.  They are the props of the celebration, not its essence, and I’m willing to play my part.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

Please Pass the Carp Quiz: Spicy

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