“Mmmmmmm,” we both squeeled as the flavors of the chocolate candy melted in our mouths.
We were in France for the afternoon Christmas shopping. And while our basic French language skills could order us lunch and ask for the bill, having deeper conversations about the different types of chocolate was quite difficult – until she handed us each a chocolate to try. And voila! Mmmm. The international sound of pleasure.
Fastforward four days.
Lucy and I find ourselves in a local bar in Donosti, Spain watching a band from Portland, Maine. As two of the six or seven women in the entire bar, we stand out; we’re not Basque and we’re clearly not regulars there. And we laugh and sing along to the catchy choruses of the Pop-Punk Rock n’ Roll sounds tearing up the stage, I realize that we are probably the only two who understand everything from the lyrics to the attempted stage-audience banter – which got me thinking about the international languages of music and food.
It’s an incredible thing to be comfortable in two languages and I imagine even more incredible when you break the barrier of 3, 4, and then 5 languages. To be able to switch comfortably between countries and conversations with locals can open up doors for more wholesome and positive experiences.
However, music and food can speak to everyone despite the lack of a common language. We can bond through the simple pleasures of listening to music we enjoy and eating food that sparks our taste buds. We can use gestures and sounds to share our happiness in that moment no matter what the language barrier may be.
Although attempting to communicate with languages is always beneficial and respected — it´s not always necessary. So, next time you´re wandering around foreign streets and find yourself in a pastry shop oogling the baked goods or in a low-lit bar late at night listening to the chorus of a band in some unknown language to you – just look around and nod and smile at the person next to you, they´ll most likely get it.