In my last post, “Rohe Bete und Apfel Salat” I talked about my first experience preparing a meal in my target language, German. I have been moving away from cooking main meals using a recipe to test my creativity and knowledge of which ingredients work together. This is all to encourage myself to better discover and hone my personal cooking style. I have not set the same rule for baking. Enter today’s subject: Baking in German.
(Disclaimer: I can now easily blunder my way through preparing a meal from a German recipe because I have been cooking in restaurants for almost 10 years now. This is not the case with baking.)
Before taking on this task, I was incredibly nervous, but thankfully I had one experience baking Sauerkirsch Pie to fall back on. This time I chose a recipe from kochbar.de by Dragon-fire, because it has a limited number of ingredients. Keeping it simple is the best way to practice any skill, especially when it is in a second language.
I began this mini-challenge by scanning the recipe (das Rezept) and taking out the Zutaten (Flour, Butter, Canned Sour Cherries, Sugar, and Cornstarch) and then reading the Zubereitung a few times before beginning. I am now at the level where I can get around unfamiliar words by using context and previous knowledge since I have built up my workable vocabulary studying German at the local university for the past two years.
Besides not understanding every word, I encountered other problems. First, how can I break up this block of text in my head to make sense of it? How do I best measure the ingredients with only two bowls? What exactly is 210C in Fahrenheit? How long should the Kirschfüllung cook before pouring it into the dough?
Before allowing myself to become overwhelmed that it was taking a long time to read and process the information in this block of text, I chose to break it up into small chunks and read three sentences at a time before stopping. After reading the selected sentences and completing the steps, I allowed myself to continue. It is a HUGE understatement to say patience is necessary when learning a second language and dealing with the emotional side of language learning: namely frustration.
To push through insecurity and frustration when trying to complete a task in a second language, like cooking, break the task into smaller chunks. If the goal is to bake a pie in your target language, start by gathering the ingredients and completing each mini step before continuing.
Remember the main goal is to integrate language learning into your life. Repeat this over and over. It is much easier to write than to believe. This small task is simply a smaller version of the main goal.
Start with simple recipes with only a few ingredients, like the raw beet and apple salad or a pie with a simple filling.
Choose a task you are typically comfortable with in your native language and then stretch your target language skills by performing that task in your target language.
Have you tried baking in your target language? What were the problems you encountered?