Monday, 1 June 2009

Word of the day "syrop de sureau"

A translator should not really admit to forgetting words but I do regularly forget the French for the elder tree - sureau. Strangely I seem to be able to remember it more easily in German - Holunder - and this helped me out over the weekend when there were a large proportion of people from Alsace in the group we were travelling around the Jura with. Les Alsaciens traditionally grew up speaking two languages, French and Alsacien, and then learned high German early on at school (and now I am not going to call them Alsations in English for obvious reasons). This makes folk from Alsace great walking dictionaries when you're in the middle of nowhere trying to find a word, which I was!
I hoped that the women who are part of the aux p'tits bonheurs GAEC might have some elderflower cordial amongst their delicious products but I needed to find the word sureau before I could ask. So having got the word I plucked up my courage and asked for syrop de sureau - which is a real tongue twister in French. Unfortunately they didn't have any, well not the kind I was looking for, I wanted elderflower cordial and they only had elderberry cordial, so I learned that I need to add a blanc or noir after my syrop de sureau to get it exactly right. They told me that I should try and make my own - part of their mandate to is to retrieve, revive and share folk wisdom and recipes from the past. Given the amount of elder blossom on the other side of the fence at the bottom of my garden I ought to give it a try - but I'm not sure I'll manage that before I go to Rome on Wednesday.
Anyway if you live somewhere where you can get hold of elderflower cordial it is wonderful and refreshing with some cold fizzy water. A real taste of the early summer countryside.
And there is some fascinating etymological background to why it is sureau in French here - and no it has nothing to do with being on water.