Saturday, 26 November 2011

How to Learn French While Cooking

Learn French by preparing famous French recipes. It is effective to have memorable real life experiences, for language learning. Drilling and memorizing lists of words is boring, and is only useful for short-term memory. You remember the vocabulary for the test, but a few days later... it is gone.

Cooking uses many senses and not only creates a context, but also produces a pleasant memory - long term memory. Children can cook along with adults, under proper supervision. Practice the vocabulary, as you are making the recipe together. Then, when you all sit down to eat, reinforce it again, perhaps explaining to each other, in French, how you prepared the meal or dessert.

Try to incorporate French culture into the experience. Make a French onion soup recipe and learn the words for cheese, onions, bread, and olive oil. The soup reminds me of New Years Eve in Grenoble, France - a tradition of our French hosts.

Christmas time, make a buche de noel; the exciting genoise cake roll, which resembles a yuletide log. Learn the vocabulary for oven, baking, chocolate, cream and more. And also learn about the patisseries in France, which are teaming with buche de noel cakes during the Christmas season.

Coq au vin dates back hundreds of years. It is a quintessential French dish, originally made from rooster, braised with carrots, onions, mushrooms and, of course, wine. Legend has it that Caesar was sent a rooster by the chief of the Gauls, to show symbolically that the Gauls were lean and aggressive. Caesar had the rooster cooked and served to the chief. Today, Coq au vin has evolved into a fragrant chicken stew.

Simulate a French bistro and prepare a croque monsieur. The French verb croquer means to crunch. The grilled ham and cheese sandwich is finished with a French béchamel sauce. Add a fried egg on top, and you have a Croque Madame.

To complete the experience, make crepes - savory or sweet. Crepes are often served on candlemas. Flip the crepes, while saying the French rhyme:

A la Chandeleur - (At Candlemas)
Faire sauter les crepes (to make the crepes jump)
Porte Bonheur (brings happiness)

Crepes make a nutritious meal or snack. There are so many different fillings - all additions to your growing vocabulary. And learn about creperies, which serve crepes and are typical of Brittany, but can found all over France

The famous French author Marcel Proust recognized the link, between food association and memory. In his novel "À La Recherche du Temps Perdu", vivid memories are triggered by a madeleine dunked in tea. Bake some of the melt in your mouth, fluted little cakes, and imprint "la recette" (the recipe), in your developing French repertoire. Try other French dessert recipes.

Bon appétit!

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