Do you know what the German word for gloves is? It’s Handschuhe. That translates to handshoes in English. Some of you might think that this is incredibly clever. I know for a fact that every single German that has said it to me has smirked with barely-concealed linguistic pride, obviously thinking that they have the best and most ingenious language in the world.
But here’s the thing about handshoes: gloves are not handshoes. They are handsocks. I’m sorry, German language, but your cleverness is going to have to make a little bit more sense in order to impress me.
I’m dethroning German’s beloved handshoes only because I want to suggest a new and better bearer of the title of the Most Clever German Word That Correctly Calls Something What It Is. This word is the German word for cinnamon roll.
I first stumbled upon this word by having an important conversation with some German friends about German terms of endearment. Pet names, I mean. I learned that apparently every German calls the love in his or her life “my snail!” or “my little snail!” or “my dearest most favoritest littlest tiniest but also cutest snail!” The German word for snail is Schnecke. Scheckchen if you want to make your already small little snail even tinier and more adorable.
I thought this was the best pet name ever, so of course I immediately set to calling everyone and everything within a 500 mile radius my darling snail. Because you learn a language by making other people feel uncomfortable with your speaking it.
About two days after my discovery of the snail-as-pet-name phenomenon, I went to a bakery and discovered the best surprise of my life: my darling snail had been hiding right under my nose all this time, and I had never noticed it before because I was too obsessed with light and fluffy butter croissants. That’s right. For whatever reason I have been ignoring German cinnamon rolls. Which are called Zimtschnecken! Cinnamon snails!
I fully realize that my ignoring of Zimtschnecken is a serious crime. I have spoken to the cinnamon snail authorities, and they’re going to let it slide this time, only because I explained to them that since my 100 major Zimtschnecke infractions last year, I have logged several community service hours by making Zimtschnecken mit Rum for my family on Christmas morning (click here for the recipe, all you Zimtschnecken enthusiasts).
So the next time you need to tell someone how much you love them, I recommend doing two things: call them your most darlingest slimiest leglessiest snail, and then give them a giant plate of homemade cinnamon rolls. I promise they will love you for forever.