Got Milk?

The other morning, when our tostadas and first cups of café con leche were brought to the table, San Geraldo said, “Gracias.” The server responded, “Buen provecho.”

(“Buen provecho” is the same as “bon appetit” — “enjoy your meal” in English.)

San Geraldo looked at me perplexedly and asked:
“Why did she say ‘leche’ [milk] after I said, ‘gracias’ [thank you]?


The different Andalusian village accents are not easy to understand. This young woman is from a small pueblo and even the other staff tease her about how she swallows her words.

Still, I could have had a really good time (for myself) with San Geraldo.

I could have told him, “It’s an odd local custom, but you really should do it as well. Whenever someones says “Thank you,” you’re supposed to respond, “Milk!”

I’m so nice. I hope he appreciates how lucky he is.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

24 thoughts on “Got Milk?”

  1. You are nice, and San Geraldo really is very lucky to have you in his life. And you are very lucky to have San Geraldo in your life.

    What a cute baby you were! You are just as cute now.

    I wonder what response San Geraldo would have received if he did say "Milk" after "Thank you" 🙂

    1. Aw, Jo, you're a sweetheart! It sounded funny (setting San Geraldo up like that), but it also makes me feel a bit ill just considering it; so he's definitely safe with me. (But can you imagine?!?)

  2. Aww, I love this. He is lucky you're nice.

    My sister Veronica = not so nice. The first time we were in France together I was 5 or 6 years old. It was before the accident and my stutter, which means I was speaking. I tried to say, "C'est la vie" in response to ordering something that a restaurant didn't have. (Such is life, or, oh well.) I said it a little off, and she corrected me and told me it's pronounced, "C'est la guerre," which pretty much means, this means war.

    So I ran around France for about a month, declaring war on everyone who didn't have what I asked for. "You have no blueberries? This means war."

    1. Victor:
      But, I'll bet Veronica has a lot more fun than I do. (Anyway, she could have set you up a lot worse than that… but maybe the only reason she didn't was because her French wasn't good enough at the time to figure that out.) My sister would have been exactly like Veronica. Fortunately, she didn't speak any other languages.

    2. Fortunately everyone seems to just laugh at the little 5 year old declaring war while smiling. It would not have been funny if we had been older.

      You were a beautiful baby.

    1. Ron:
      I've gotten him over the years too many times to mention; he believes just about anything I tell him. I figure he's got enough trouble with Spanish to begin with. I don't need to add to it (although it's so tempting some times).

  3. Mitch, that photo session must have been too long! You didn't hold back showing your true feelings!
    You are so kind for sparing San Geraldo.

  4. Hello Mitch:
    We think that you are both lucky to be able to get even close to hearing what words are being said. Hungarian, unless it is spoken very clearly and slowly to us, might well be the language of extra-terrestials.

    However, we feel that you might just be waiting for the opportunity to get San Geraldo into serious hot water [or worse] one day…..that adorable baby should not fool anyone!!!

  5. I speak Hungarian, as a second language, and I don't think it's quite that difficult, Jane and Lance. But they do speak quite quickly…I had the advantage of my husband's family speaking Hungarian around me for years….It helped much more than classes though I always took them…I admit, some of the classes I took when living in Budapest were odd. One teacher insisted on basing all our conversations on the advantages of soldiers for hire over a drafted army. So useful!

    Mitchell, I think Jerry is very lucky you don't play all the linguistic tricks you could!

    1. Kristi:
      Everything's relative: Jerry speaks Russian and remembers some Latin. He thinks they're both easier than Spanish. I don't think it would be fair to make Spanish worse for him than it already is.

  6. I salute you for fighting your inner prankster and sparing Jerry's feelings. Not everyone speaking the same language can be understood when you allow for different accents and speech impediments. I wonder if that isn't how the different languages evolved?

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      The dialects can be really challenging (I suppose just like in some parts of the USA). For example, in Spain the word for fish (in a fish market) is "pescado" (sounds kind of like pess-ka-doe). In a not uncommon local dialect, people will say what sounds like "pay-kye-oh." It takes some getting used to. But once your ear adapts, it becomes easy to follow without even thinking about it.

    1. Elaine:
      A friend here asked the meaning of "Got Milk?" I didn't think about the fact that only Americans might be familiar with it. It's an ad campaign begun by the California Milk Processor's Board that then went national.

      I think that photo's cute, too. Thanks!

  7. Perhaps an hour and a half per day of Rosetta Stone might be in order, instead of an hour? :))

    Seriously, thank heavens for your sharp ear and kind heart– nothing stings like being made fun of when misunderstanding a language. Good thing you explained :))


    1. Judeet:
      An hour and a half wouldn't help. They enunciate correctly at Rosetta Stone! As for being made fun, I'm right in there with Jerry. I was having a conversation the other day and my friend burst out laughing. I don't even remember the word I had created but it was a big long one in the middle of a sentence and I realized it was a combination of Spanish, English, and Italian. It's not uncommon for me to do that. I think I'll call the language: Spanglishtaliano.

  8. I not only don't speak Spanish but have a bit of a hearing loss… Can't tell you how many times I've turned to Bill to ask "What did they say?"….. Now you've got me wondering about some of the answers that HE'S given me 😉

    1. Odd Essay:
      Jerry also has a challenge with his hearing. He hears well, but it's always been difficult for him to filter out background. He does the same to me… in the middle of movies and shows. It drives me crazy sometimes, but I have never thrown him a curve ball. I'm afraid I can't speak for Bill!

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