‘Salut i força al canut’ is a Catalan* expression normally used when toasting a drink.
Pronounced sal-oot E force-a can-oot (not perfect but close enough), the literal meaning is ‘health and strength to your purse’.
But it is the purse itself that makes it a little more interesting – and contentious.
The canut is a traditional Catalan purse made from the leather scrotum of a bull. There are several interpretations of the expression and you will hear all of them argued with equal veracity.
1) Polite Version
The polite explanation is of wishing good health and strength to your purse, meaning wealth.
2) Virility Version
The virility version is based on the purse being made from the scrotum, and so it’s wishing your health and virility – in effect the contents of your scrotal sack.
3) Viagra Version
The Viagra version is specific to a cylindrical style of canut, into which coins would fit exactly. This made for a very heavy tube which was worn slung from the waist – so it doesn’t take too much imagination to see where the connection with the male member comes from.
The force to your canut is a wish that you would always be able to maintain a strong erection.
It is this third version that I have been told most enthusiastically by local Ibicenco men in late night lock ins. They would sometimes accompany the toast with a clenched fist/upright arm gesture suggesting a level of rigidity that I have little doubt would have been a long distant memory for most of them.
Whether they advocate the erection selection because it is the racier version, or an Ibicenco variation, I couldn’t tell you – but if you have any issue with this interpretation don’t complain to me, I will happily put you in touch and you can go and debate it with them. You won’t win, but you’ll enjoy losing.
The reality is that if you ask 3 locals you’ll get 3 different answers, as with many things.
Whatever is the historically accurate version, you will get a lot of brownie points replacing your cheers with salut i força al canut in a local bar – especially as a tourist, and it is certainly not unheard of for such efforts to be rewarded with larger measures and/or a free drink before you leave.
While on the subject, another couple of toasting tourist tips. If you are invited for a drink, they are buying one for you. If a round of shots, chipitos, are being served at the bar, wait until everybody has one before drinking yours, and look your hosts in the eye when toasting. FYI, the people banging theirs on the bar before drinking, are wishing themselves good sex (use it in combination with salut i força al canut and you can’t go wrong).
As for the different salut i força al canut definitions, you can take your pick which one you prefer, however you have to admit this decorated example does look like something from an 18th century Love Honey catalogue.
Apparently the cylindrical canut was favoured by shepherds…. long, lonely nights in the fields then.
*Catalan – For the benefit of those unifamiliar with Ibiza, though part of Spain’s Balearic Islands Province, the official language used by regional and local government is Catalan. Ibiza also has its own local dialect Ibicenco, which is still spoken by many of the indigenous Islander’s. Ibicenco is a spoken, not written, language. I do not know a lot of it, though the Ibicenco word pronounced as Nick (that being my name), translates as ‘angry man’. This has proved quite handy over the years – I am sometimes told I look a right miserable old git, and have made a joke of the translation on many occasions to win the favour of an otherwise unhelpful local in the bank/post office/medical centre. I hope this information will be useful to any other angry looking Nicks out there.
- main photo by Robert Szczechowiak at Tapas Restaurant