Look at this word. Just look at it. You just have to love it, don’t you? It’s long. It’s German. It must mean something that English speakers wish they had a word for.

Well, I guess you can say that English speakers do have a word for it, inasmuch as it’s adopted into English. If I were writing it in German, I would have to capitalize it, Erwartungstorte, because it’s a noun. But lower-case it and it’s English and you can say it like an English word, more or less. (Still say the as “v.”)

This word is a late Christmas gift. By that I mean that you’ll wish you’d gotten it in time for Christmas, but I also mean it can be used to describe many a late Christmas gift. Many an on-time Christmas gift, too, to be sure.

What is it? It’s another in the line of words made in Germany that have to do with food and emotion, like Kummerspeck, which means “grief bacon” and refers to the weight you put on after a bad breakup, and Weichei, which means “soft egg” and refers to someone with no backbone. This one is made of Erwartung, meaning “expectation” (if it sounds a bit like awaiting, there’s a reason for that), and Torte, meaning “torte” (or “cake”), plus an s that gets stuck after ung words in compounds. It means something you like because you’re expected to.

But by that I don’t mean something you act like you like. That’s a whole other thing. If it’s real erwartungstorte, you genuinely like it, you are sure of it. Perhaps it’s famous. Perhaps a lot of love went into it. Perhaps it just showed up in the mail in mid-January, sent by someone who is disorganized but really does want it to go over well. In any event, the thing in itself is not something you would necessarily otherwise like, but it comes with the expectation that you will like it; that expectation is part and parcel of the experience, and it gives it just the right flavour. Mmmm.

Oh, by the way, don’t use this word with an actual German person. They won’t know what you’re talking about. It didn’t exist as such before just now. It’s another new old word that I confected just for you. I do hope you’ll like it.

2 responses to “erwartungstorte

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