Sunday, December 06, 2009

the metric system

My Uncle Tim emailed me from Ithaca New York, to tell me he'd just canned a bunch of garlic pickles, using his modified version of my recipe, which is, in turn, a modification on the pickled garlic recipe in Small Batch Preserving, by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, Firefly Books 2001. Uncle Tim was interested to observe that some of the cloves turned a greenish hue in the jar. I looked this up and found out that it's a natural phenomenon, and that cloves can also turn blue. It's a reaction between the pigments in the garlic, and the acid brine used for pickling.

Uncle Tim checked in with me about the metric system also. He's a scientist, so has used metric in his academic life, and cups/quarts/yards/acres/miles at home. I emailed him back with this description of life in Canada, and our weird relationship with the metric system:

As for the metric system, we are kind of split-personalitied about it here in Canada. Our recipes, cookbooks and measuring tools are 95% imperial measure (cups, tablespoons etc), except that for liquid measure we don't use pints or quarts. Anything that isn't measured in cups is measured in liters (or litres). We drive metric (kilometers of highway distance, and for speed limits, and liters of gas), buy cans and bottles of things (including alcohol) in metric, sew metric (fabric is in meters) and use metric as our language of science. Meat and poultry are sold by the pound. Fish and cheese (more expensive) are priced per 100grams. Real estate is still imperial though. Houses are evaluated in square feet, and lots are measured in feet. We weigh and measure ourselves imperially, and at the gym, the weights and machines are still all in pounds - even the ones manufactured in Canada. I guess we are bilingual.

We must seem weird to people in other parts of the world. Or are they weird this way too?

question: do you think metric?

mompoet - dual-minded on this


Anonymous said...

I often times think of myself as that imperial metric generation as I started school in imperial measurements and was then converted to metric ....


Kristene said...

Same here, I'm half and half.

Interestingly, my nephews, about 20 years younger than me, think almost exclusively in metric.