Mamihlapinatapai


Mamihlapinatapai (sometimes spelled mamihlapinatapei) is a word from the Yaghan language of  Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records  as the “most succinct word”, and is considered one of the hardest words to translate. It refers to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves.”

We all know this look. It happens a lot when you are trying something new. It also happens often between men and women. You know, that first date look when you are really not sure if the other person is interested. Will they want a second date? Will they kiss you good bye? Rejection sucks.

But sometimes it’s easier at the beginning than later on, when you have something to loose. All those emotions, all those life decisions, all those times when the diving in or speaking up or putting forth effort involves risking your heart. It happens when you just figure out that you love someone and you wonder if they feel the same. People deal with it most often by not dealing with it at all. There must be a word for that too. Yenkinamaihlapi might work. Yenkina means to be afraid, ihlapi means to be at a loss of what to do next, ma – is a reflective/passive prefix. You could probably right a whole book on these two words.

So, what are you afraid of? Being embarrassed or rejected? It is easier to be afraid than to be brave, isn’t it? Easier to reject than to be rejected or to leave rather than to be left. I wonder if the Yaghan have a word for fear of cooking. It’s the same basic issue. You are afraid it won’t turn out good or the way you think it should. This is especially problematic when you are cooking for someone else.

I admire people who can dive right in. I especially admire people who can dive back in. I don’t always have that strength, so it seems much easier for me to suffer rejection in my kitchen rather than in my heart. It’s not like I don’t know that when you jump in with your whole heart, that is where the magic of something begins. I wonder if the Yaghan have a word for doubtful-love-desire or kitchen-coward.

Well, I may be jaded when it comes to love, but I’m not a kitchen-coward. I dove in last night and made something new for someone else. It was off the cuff, it was what I had hanging around. It was really good…magical even.

Bruchetta with Shrimp (GF) (You can make this without the shrimp for a vegetarian option. It’s still good.)

  • two roma tomatoes
  • shrimp
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, the more the better
  • olive oil
  • Basalmic vinegar
  • oregano
  • two springs of rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • romano or paramgiano cheese, grated

Simple. Chop it all up nice and small and mix it all together.

Douse it with just enough olive oil to make it stick together and with three or so dashes of basalmic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. I like lots of pepper.

Brush your bread with olive oil and toast in the oven at about 375 degrees. Pop your Bruchetta mix in the oven with the toast and leave it just long enough to make the cheese a little melty. Put the bowl of  Bruchetta in the middle of a plate and tuck the bread around the edges to serve.

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