Monday, October 19, 2020

"Pain, brioche, and the language of taxation"

We made mention of the Irish court ruling as the outro from another post on Irish Whiskey:

And in other news from Ireland, from The
Subway sandwiches contain 'too much sugar' to legally be considered bread, Supreme Court rules

The sugar is equal to 10% of the weight of the flour which probably caramelizes nicely but puts the stuff near the range of confection.

And here's a language lesson from  Canadian econ blog Worthwhile Canadian Initiative:

Ireland's Supreme Court recently ruled that the buns Subway uses in its sandwiches contain too much sugar to be considered "bread", and are thus subject to Value Added Tax (VAT). The decision lead to headlines and discussion along the lines of "Irish High Court Rules Subway’s Sandwich Bread Is Not Legally Bread" or "Ireland declares that Subway’s bread is basically cake". The emphasis was on how "confused" and "bizarre" the entire debate was, and the cost and arbitrary nature of distinctions made in tax legislation: "Having moral distinctions between foodstuffs in your tax regulations turns out to be an awfully expensive thing".

Yet the discussion of whether or not Subway buns are bread is only confused and bizarre in English, with our barren culinary language. In French, the discussion would not seem peculiar. French distinguishes between three broad categories of baked goods: unsweetened bread is "pain", sweetened bread (often made with eggs and milk) is "brioche", and cake is "gâteau." Hence the expression "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" is (somewhat misleadingly) translated as "let them eat cake", because there is no English word for sweetened bread.


Montreal is the fourth largest French speaking city in the world, something I should have mentioned in last year's: 

 I'm putting the odds of Montreal passing Abidjan for the #3 spot at 0%.