The Lost in Translation Cup for Most Amusing Language Barrier

And the cup goes to... Ivory Coast fans at Tam Tam African Restaurant

Tam Tam African Restaurant is an inconspicuous storefront next to a liquor store in one of the countless strip malls that line North Lindbergh Boulevard in Florissant. On a hot day with the shades drawn, the restaurant is dim inside and all the tables are empty.

Minerva Lopez
Minerva Lopez
Overprotective soccer mom, come get your trophy.
Overprotective soccer mom, come get your trophy.

Eight or nine dark-skinned men are crowded into the bar area. They're all chattering rapidly in French and focused on a TV set tuned to the pregame show for the afternoon's World Cup match between Ivory Coast and Brazil.

Tam Tam owner Kassim Kone hails from Senegal, like Ivory Coast a French-speaking West African nation. He was pulling hard for Cote D'Ivoire (which he pronounces coat-DEEV-wah).

The game started with Ivory Coast controlling possession but lobbing impotent shots at the Brazilain keeper. The Ivorian fans, sipping shots of hot murky brown liquor served from a little teapot, were extremely animated, gesturing wildly and shouting in French. It wasn't hard to discern some phrases, such as "ç'est bon" on good plays, and "le foot" — "soccer" — but most of the conversation was indecipherable to the English speaker.

Brazil took the lead early, when Luis Fabiano clobbered a perfectly threaded pass from star midfielder Kaká past the Ivorian keeper at close range. A few minutes later, Fabiano scored again. When replays show that he used his arm to bring down the ball, the Ivorians, almost in unison, shout "merde!" and curse the referee.

After another Brazilian goal, this one by Elano, a man in a gold Ivory Coast jersey declares that a comeback is "une impossibilité."

Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba heads in a goal in the 79th minute to make the score 3-1. Then the match starts to get chippy. Kaka elbows an Ivorian player in the chest and the soccer equivalent of a bench-clearing brawl ensues. Kaka receives a red card and the waitress — from Tanzania but rooting for Brazil — starts talking trash with Kone, saying the Africans just cost the advancing team one of its best players.

"You know what 'kaka' means in French?" Kone responds in English with a big grin. "It's not good."

The Study Abroad Cup for Most Authentic Viewing Experience

And the cup goes to... Spain matches at Guido's Pizzeria and Tapas

Though its name suggests Jersey Shore, the owners of Guido's Pizzeria and Tapas are from Madrid and have the bar portion of the restaurant decked out with a collection of scarves from Spanish soccer clubs, including a vintage red-and-yellow one for the national team, emblazoned with the motto "¡A por ellos!" — "After them!" — stretched above a giant flat-screen TV set.

During Cup matches, they've been serving half-price house sangria and buy-one-get-one-free tapas. Not the bastardized American "tapas" that have become a sad trend in the St. Louis restaurant scene, but real, auténtico dishes from the motherland, like tortilla española and jamón serrano.

The tortilla, not to be confused with the Mexican taco holder made from corn, is a thick egg, onion and potato omelet that's lightly browned on the outside and has the rich, creamy texture that can only come from an abundance of butter. The jamón is a massive arrangement of thin slices of cured ham on a platter. Ordering jamón tapas in Spain generally gets you one or two slices of ham on a small piece of bread. Catering to the American appetite, Guido's dished out at least a dozen razor-thin slices of meat and a basketful of sesame-crusted bread slices.

It's not just the food that makes it feel as if you need a passport to enter. You'll encounter a lively crowd of Spaniards who wave flags, jump behind the bar and shout things like, "¡La sangre de España es bueno!" — Spanish blood is good! — when Spanish defender Gerard Piqué takes a boot to the face from a Honduran player and spits blood.

The Ice-Cold Frosty Cup for Comments That Could Only Happen in St. Louis

And the cup goes to... Unidentified dude at Meshuggah

About eight minutes into the USA-Algeria showdown, Meshuggah coffeehouse owner Patrick Liberto pointed out a lone Algerian watching the game. His name was Salem and he was eating a bagel, smiling sheepishly under a head of curly black hair and saying nothing, probably because he was so vastly outnumbered.

There was a pause and someone on the other side of the room joked — to laughter and applause — "As long as he's not a Cubs fan, he's OK with me."

The Attention Deficit Disorder Cup for Viewing Multiple Matches Simultaneously

And the cup goes to... RFT restaurant critic Ian Froeb for his meal at the Post

To keep teams from fixing the outcome so they both can advance beyond the group stage, FIFA wisely scheduled the final games of the first round to be played at the same time.

Trying to pay attention to both the Netherlands-Cameroon and Japan-Denmark contests at the Post in Maplewood, Froeb concisely summed up the only flaw with this arrangement: "Oh, God, is it hard to follow simultaneous World Cup games."

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