The Grammar Belle

Spiffing y'all up, one typo at a time

Quien sabe dos lenguas . . .


vale por dos.* Hey, y’all. No, you’re not lost. This is The Grammar Belle. Did ya know I’m bilingual? (I used to speak fairly fluent Russian, too, but I haven’t practiced a bit since my SMU days. I can still ask you where your house is, request a cold beer, and recite a poem about a bunny being shot by hunters, though. Gotta love Russian.)

Anyway, the saying I shared with you above loosely translates to “A person who knows two languages is worth twice as much.” I’d like to say I wholeheartedly agree, naturally. Target recently learned (the hard way) that it’s good idea to have competent bilingual folks on staff at all times:

Photoshop is fun!

Photoshop is fun!

Since my close friends and coworkers know that I am as much a stickler of Spanish grammar as I am of English, they often send Spanish-related questions my way. One that has come up more than a few times, believe it or not, relates to one of my favorite Mexican delicacies:

¡Riquísimos! (Images courtesy of and

¡Riquísimos! (Images courtesy of and

One of those little, delicious, masa-wrapped bundles is one tamal. A whole plateful would give you tamales.

To make a Spanish word plural, if it ends in a vowel, add s. If it ends in a consonant add es (with a few exceptions). Yes, in English, we call it a “tamale,” because at some point in time we applied our English rules to those Spanish words . . . and now my friends are hanging out in Tex-Mex joints that offer plates with a taco, a burrito, and a tamale and then venturing to a more authentically Mexican place that has a dish that includes one tamal and one pupusa. And then they call me to ask what’s what.

Random capital "T" is a typo, though.

Random capital “T” is a typo, though.

“Hey, Grammar Belle! I found a typo on this restaurant’s menu!” (I always let them down easily.)

All this tamal/tamale talk has made me hungry. How about you? Here’s my mama’s delicious tamal/tamale Frito pie recipe to help ya out.

Sue’s Frito Pie

Chili (My mama always used canned Wolf Brand Chili.)
Tamales (Pick your favorites! Mine are from Luna’s Tortillas in Big D.)
Fritos (the skinny little regular ones)
Finely chopped white onion
Shredded cheese (I prefer a cheddar/Monterey Jack blend.)
Optional side items: pickled jalapeño slices, homemade guacamole

Warm up the chili per directions on the can. Steam your tamales, shuck, and place in one layer on the bottom of a deep casserole dish. (I use my 3-quart soufflé dish.) Cover with a layer of chili. Follow with a layer of onions, a layer of Fritos, and a layer of cheese. Repeat layering the chili, onions, Fritos, and cheese. Bake in 350° oven until bubbly, 20–30 minutes. Serve with jalapeños, guacamole, and cold Lone Star beer. (Negra Modelo will also do.)

¡Buen provecho!

This reminds me of one summer afternoon with my mama when I was in college. As she was chatting on the phone with a friend, she turned to me and shared some good news. My response was an enthusiastic, “Dude!” (It was 1990. What can I say?) My mama went back to talking to her friend and said, “My daughter speaks three languages and all she can think of to say to me is ‘Dude’!” She did have a point . . .

*Trademark of the Hampton-Brown Company.

One comment on “Quien sabe dos lenguas . . .

  1. outlawmama
    April 17, 2013


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This entry was posted on April 12, 2013 by in Southernisms, Uncategorized, When Spellcheck Won't Help and tagged , , , , , .

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