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Pull a cake – Jalarse una torta

Pull a cake - Jalarse una tortaHave you ever tried to pull yourself a cake or jalarse torta?

That doesn’t make a lot of sense in English, but it does in Spanish. You really wouldn’t want to pull yourself a cake, believe me.

That’s why learning a new language can be so difficult for many. You cannot just translate word for word or put an “a” or o behind the English word to make it a Spanish word.

Wikipedia explains what a torta is as:

Torta is a Spanish, Italian, Greek, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Portuguese, Croatian, Swedish, Serbian, Macedonian and also Slovak word with a wide array of culinary meanings, such as a cake, or flatbread.

What’s a torta?

A torta, in Costa Rica, is a cake or a patty.

BUT, in Costa Rica, jalarse una torta does not mean pull yourself a cake, it means making a mistake, often a serious mistake. If you broke something or did something wrong, se jaló una torta. Yo me jale una torta – I made a mistake.

If you broke something really valuable or did something seriously wrong, that would be a tortón (a large cake).

If a woman says “me jalé torta” it usually means she got pregnant and didn’t want to.

Expressions like qué torta, se me olvidó mi billetera en la casa – Shoot, I forgot my wallet at home – is usually accompanied by a movement of the hand like when you shake your hands to get the excess water off. Ticos hit their fingers together so hard that it makes a snapping sound.

A falta de pan, buenas son tortas – when things are scarce, anything will do. (Thanks, Christopher Howard!)

Learn more

Interested in Learning more? Take Spanish classes. We recommend you contact the Spanish School for Residents and Expats. We strongly recommend this language school as your best choice to learn Spanish, click here to contact them. Now also in Green Project Language School, Ojochal.

Spanish Language School Escazu and Ojochal

If you’d like to learn more about the Costa Rican culture and how to prevent culture shock, read more blogs about this topic. Contact us for any real estate requirements you have.


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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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