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Another Portland Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

 

"Crape" vs. "crep"

The debate has dragged on for years now. On one side: me. On the other: people that have spent too much time in French classes. I've been subjected to numerous "corrections" but I've never bothered to do a little internet research and find out who's right.

Is crepe pronounced "crape" or "crep"?

Sure enough, according to Webster's, in the English vernacular the word is pronounced "crape." As long as my feet are set squarely on American soil, I can say "crape" to my heart's content without fear of reprisal or eye rolls. I don't care how the French pronounce the word, this is the USA and here we say "crape."

I'm right. Those who dare correct me are wrong. I win. Hooray for me.

After work I may have to celebrate with a "crape" at Chez Machin, a "crapery" on SE Hawthorne. This cozy bistro is full of enough faux-French decor to make Pepe Le Pu swoon or anyone who hates a certain country full of "cheese eating surrender monkeys" puke in their suits. It's at least 67% as adorable as Amelie and 99.7% less smelly than the Paris Metro. Counterbalancing all the cuteness is a row of avant garde art displays made out of random bits of machinery and lights. They can be fond in the hallway leading towards the bathroom.

I've been going to Le Machin for years after discovering Orangina. The Algerian soda, now produced in France, is on the menu and tastes like a combination of orange juice and 7-Up. There's also Nutella, an ingredient used in a few of their sweet crepes. I'd never tasted the stuff before setting foot in Chez Machin but I'm convinced it could be as addictive as unfiltered cigarettes. The bistro's savory crepes aren't quite enough to sate a hearty American appetite but the decor and the menu make up for it.

The back porch is a nice place to plow through a copy of the Mercury on a warm spring day and, during clear weather, there's a few tables outside near the main entrance. During a recent visit a waitress decided to speak en Fran├žais as I sat at a sidewalk table. My dining companion and I played along, our orders in English, her responses in French. Adding another level of intrigue: halfway through the meal random people walked by with bundles of lavender. Between the fragrant scent that filled the block, the French cafe and the glowing marquee of the Baghdad, Hawthorne briefly felt much more exotic than it is, like a spot halfway between "showcases" at EPCOT or a limbo world of mishmashed global flare.

And then a passing dog licked my feet while trying to get to a piece of bread under the table.

After paying the tab, we discovered the source of the lavender. A hippie bloke was wandering up and down the street handing it out. We should have grabbed some but instead we rolled over to Movie Madness to rent Commando. After an evening of idyllic international dinning, what better way to chase it than by watching Arnold Schwarzenegger kill the entire population of a foreign locale?

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