Guessing Game Time!
They had slices of cake out at our Daiei today. Sometimes I get some for dessert. Today, I just took a photo because what the sign says is one of my favorite loan words in Japanese.
Here's the game (open to those who don't speak Japanese, or at least not very much.):
The sign above the cake (the one telling you that it's Y98 each) says "Cake Viking".
Guesses as to just what exactly they might mean by that? The sign is written in Katakana, the syllabary used to transliterate foreign words. So the sign says literally (just transliterated, not translated--it's two English words written in Katakana) "Cake Viking".
Minna yoku gambarimashita, ne!! (Everyone tried very hard!)
Alice is the closest-- it basically *is* a buffet, and the same word "Viking" is also used in restaurants to mean that (and was, in fact, where I heard used first). The question, though, is "Why 'viking' to mean 'buffet'?"
Well, it goes something like this (although I have no direct evidence of the correct etymology, so this is my Best Guess etymology):
Another word used in English for 'Buffet' (borrowed from French), is 'Smorgasbord', borrowed from Swedish. Click on that link back there for more Food Porn. 'Buffet' and 'Smorgasbord' are pretty near translations of each other. English (greedy language that it is) has borrowed both words.
Japanese, like English, loves to import sexy foreign words to sell stuff... but apparently 'Smorgasbord' was just a bit much for Japanese mouths to handle. So since the Smorgasbord originated in Sweden, and Sweden is a Scandinavian country, and the Vikings were *also* Scandinavian... Viking just got substituted for Smorgasbord. Or 'Smorgasbord'=Viking-Style, with 'style' left off.
In restaurants, the Drink Viking is very popular (same as the US--where you just go up and get your own drinks out of the fountain and coffee from the pot instead of the waiter bringing them to you). Drink Viking is, in fact, the first place I heard the term. Thought it was *hilarious* (well, once I'd figured out what the heck they were talking about). Every time we go to a restaurant that has one, I wish desperately that I still had my horned Viking helmet that I used to wear when I taught German (Diana will know what I'm talking about;-)). I would dearly love to saunter up to the Drink Viking... and calmly drop ice cubes into my glass with a horned viking helmet on my head;-) Mysteriously, there never seems to be any mead available at the Drink Viking, despite the inevitable images of Valhalla that the term conjures up.
So there you have it (maybe)... convoluted enough for ya?