Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

I need the "Metric System for Dummies"-please help me (Spanish or Catalan)

I need the "Metric System for Dummies"-please help me (Spanish or Catalan)

Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:04 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
I need the "Metric System for Dummies"-please help me (Spanish or Catalan)

I hate to confess this, but we didn't order meat or cheese from the deli in grocery stores in Italy because we didn't know how much we needed in kilograms.

I found an on-line conversion chart, so now I know that a pound of meat or cheese is .4535 kg, a half pound is .226 and a quarter pound is .113. Darn...I was hoping it would go the other way, so I could just hold up two fingers or something when ordering.

I'd love to be able to sample cured meats in Barcelona, but my Spanish is bad, and my Catalan is non-existent. Are there some common words to use when ordering, e.g. a half or a quarter kilo, or am I better off just writing down the amount I need?
missypie is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:17 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
You might be better off if you expressed those less-than-one-Kilo weights in terms of GRAMS (such as that 113 which equals about a 1/4 pound).

1000 Grams = one Kilo = 2.2 pounds
Dukey is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:22 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
you can also order by the slice (loncha).

dos lonchas gordas, tres lonchas FINAS.. and they weigh it.

that is what i do when calculating exact sandwiches for a party.

gordas/finas/muy finas, muy gordas
thick/thin
lincasanova is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:24 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,568
If you can remember that 500kg is a bit more than a pound, you should be able to go from there. I've always used that as my guide and have had no trouble -- you know the numbers 1-10 and 100 in the local language so you are all set.
kayd is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:34 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
500KG is a LOT more than a pound...you must mean 500 GRAMS
Dukey is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:39 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,326
Or just go to a supermarket where meat and cheese are sold pre-packed!
Alec is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:44 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Thanks, everyone. Alec, that's what we did in Italy and that's what I want to avoid in Spain. Our choices were quite limited because we were metric impaired.
missypie is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:48 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
Which begs the question - are you metric impaired, or simply math challenged? If the latter, then I suggest investing $2 in a pocket calculator. Maybe one with metric conversions printed on the back?
Robespierre is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:50 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,568
Thanks, Dukey, for catching my typo. Of course if you just say "two hundred" the vendor will know that you mean grams and won't give you that many kilos.
kayd is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:55 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Robespierre, the issue is knowing how to say what I want...do I say a half a kilogram, or 500 grams? Which is more common? How should I order so that I am most likely to get what I want (e.g. writing it down?)....I sure don't want to get 500 kg when I meant 500 grams!
missypie is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:58 AM
  #11  
rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
Occasionally (perhaps more often in restaurants, referring to the price of a steak, or a lobster), you might see "per etto", referring to "ettogrammi" (hectograms, in English), so, in a deli... 1, 2, 3 or 4 "etto" is slightly under under 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 or a full pound.

And as indicated above, pointing, and saying "cento, due centi, tre centi", etc., is pretty unambiguous - - since grams is the only unit that makes sense when pointing at a 8 kg ham.

Best wishes,

Rex
rex is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 07:00 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
What Rex said.

If the language is the issue, then calculate what you want and round it up to the nearest convenient number. Then show the calculator to the vendor.

For example, if you're buying an expensive spice* and the answer is 84g., then round up to 100g. For cheese, maybe the nearest 250g (about lb.).

* Did you know that saffron is the most expensive item in most grocery stores (on a $/pound basis)? It's typically in the range of $2-3 for 1/8 of an ounce.
Robespierre is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 11:50 AM
  #13  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,166
Hi MP
>do I say a half a kilogram, or 500 grams?

If you want about 2 oz of something, on a piece of paper write "50 gram", 4 oz is "100 gram", etc.

ira is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 11:52 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Okay, now I'm going to really show my ignorance, but are the words "gram" and "kilogram" the same in all western European languages?
missypie is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 11:58 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Yes, a kilogram is the same weight around the world. Same with a gram.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 12:00 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
I think mp was asking about the terminology. I don't have a definitive answer, but in French and German, the words are cognate with English.
Robespierre is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 12:00 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Not the weight - the word. Is the Spanish word for "kilogram" still "kilogram"?
missypie is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 12:01 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,385
A friend of mine tells a funny story about this. While traveling in Germany as an 18 year old, he and his friend went in to order at a deli counter. They both were large boys with very healthy appetites, so they ordered "zwei gram" of lunch meat, hoping that it wouldn't be TOO much. The counter attendant just about fell over laughing - and tried to explain that two grams would be about two specks!
Trophywife007 is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 12:12 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
German is Kilogramm ;-)
logos999 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2007, 12:17 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Fun things one can find online:

Italian: grammo
Greek: γραμμάριο
French: gramme
German: Gramm
Portugese: grama
Spanish: gramo
Russian: грамм
etc...

But I am pretty sure you won't have problem at any store, saying "gram"!
rkkwan is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:26 PM.