How (not) to say “ciabatta” at a McCafe

This afternoon, I went to a McCafe to get a cup of cappuccino. I had noticed that they were selling small cappuccino’s at a reduced price.

When I arrived at the counter, I saw this sign saying that if you buy a medium or large cappuccino, you can get a ciabatta for 10 dollars, which is originally priced at 19 dollars.

I figured well this is a real bargain, and in any case, I like ciabatta.

But then I was faced with a dilemma: I will say cappuccino in Italian (that is, what I think is the Italian pronunciation), because if I said 意大利泡沫啡, the sales assistant would think that I was messing with her. But should I say “ciabatta” in Cantonese or Italian?

They have put down the Chinese translation next to the word “ciabatta”, so I don’t have to rack my brains for the Chinese word. But I don’t like the Chinese term, which literally means “Italian bread”.

Despite my limited knowledge of Italian food, I’m sure that in Italy they have more than one type of bread. I don’t like the Chinese term because it is not specific enough, and so I don’t want to use it.

I happen to know the Italian pronunciation of ‘ciabatta’ (that is, what I think is the Italian pronunciation). But if I do say ‘ciabatta’, will the sales assistant understand?

Perhaps I need not worry about that. McDonald’s must have trained their staff on the pronunciation of their food items, especially since their restaurants are often patronized by Gweilo’s.

OK, I’ll say ‘ciabatta’, but hang on, will the salesgirl think I’m showing off? You know, this is a McCafe, not the coffee house in Four Seasons. At a McCafe, we should be treating each other as equals.

But I still don’t like the Chinese term for ciabatta.

Having pondered the issue for 30 seconds, I said to the salesgirl, somewhat reluctantly: 唔該一杯cappucinno同一個意式飽。

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4 thoughts on “How (not) to say “ciabatta” at a McCafe

  1. Karen Li

    These situation happens quite often to me too~
    I don’t like saying mochaccino in Chinese when ordering it at starbucks~
    but when I say mochaccino grande size pls, the person will repeat the order in chinese…

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