My eldest Miss S and I recently had coffee with a friend and her four year old daughter.  At some point in the conversation, she remarked that her daughter now insists they pronounce broccoli the same way we do.  Apparently we pronounce it broccol-eye whereas they pronounce it broccol-y.  Naturally, presuming my pronunciation was correct I didn’t think much of the observation, and

passed it off as another mildly humorous example of how pint sized daughters correct their mothers with oversized insistence.

A few days later, doubt crept in.  Was it actually my pronunciation that was incorrect, or perhaps it is one of those UK/American pronunciation scenarios?  So I googled it.  And what do you know, I’ve been pronouncing broccoli incorrectly for all of these years, and no one has ever mentioned it.  Mispronunciations are one of my pet hates, they grate upon my nerves like fingernails on a blackboard.  So for me, this is equivalent to having walked around for the past thirty years with toilet paper stuck to my shoe and no one has thought to point it out!  Here’s me with my long, scratchy, broccoli shaped fingernails clawing down the blackboard of other people’s phonetic ear.

Can you eye roll yourself, ugh the humiliation!

I recount this story to my husband when he comes home from work one evening, and he nods in affirmation.  He is however, careful not to exaggerate the point too much as to offend further.  Clever boy.  But then he takes me completely by surprise by adding, “While we’re on this topic, it’s also a bit annoying how you use the word noodle for every type of pasta”.  “What?”, I ask with a stern gaze.  “You know instead of asking the kids if they want spaghetti for dinner, you’ll say noodles.  Spiral pasta, linguini, macaroni… there’s no distinction as you always just say noodles”, he clarifies.  Needless to say this week before dinner I made a family announcement, “Tonight children we are having curly fettuccine with tomato mince sauce for dinner.  I repeat we are having curly fettuccine!!”.

Honestly, this man can’t find the dirty clothes basket, and yet he finds my use of the word noodle for all types of pasta annoying!

A few days later, my Dad pops in for a coffee, suspiciously carrying a large bag full of broccoli.  “What’s that for?”, I ask dubiously.  “Here”, he says, “your mother and I can’t eat all of this broccol-eye so I’ve brought you a bag”, he answers.  He continues to tell the story of how my cousin visited bearing gifts of large quantifies of broccoli, something about a farmers’ market and a trailer, but I couldn’t quite focus on the details because I was so distracted by his pronunciation of the vegetable name.  At least I know where I inherited it from, I think to myself.  Then in runs Miss S, and with great enthusiasm she climbs up on the kitchen counter grabs the bag and laughs “oh no Mummy, do I have to eat all of this broccol-eye too?”.

I bury my head in my hands, it’s a family trait spanning three generations!

So if nothing else, it’s clear my career as a TV chef isn’t that likely, since I seemingly can’t pronounce half the food pyramid nor distinguish a spiral shape from a cylindrical one.  And who knows what other hidden quirks of mine my husband finds secretly irritating, I dare not ask to be honest.  But I’m never one to shy away from self-improvement, so I have decided to embrace this week’s lesson in self awareness.  I am also resolved to be mature about my husband’s casual remarks and not counter his comments with a parting shot about his incessant snoring, or his almost super human ability to continue his sweet serenade regardless of children waking, natural disasters or Mr Molly the cat doing his best flash dance impression on the end of our bed at 3am.


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