Qu’est-ce que c’est? A cookbook that would not only teach me how to cook classic French dishes, but also teach me to speak some French? And it’s written by an author who seems to have produced this ambitious book on her own? As an aficionado of cooking and cookbooks, as well as language, words and world cultures, and to top it all off a enthusiastic support of independent authors, I knew I had to read this cookbook.
The author has chosen ten recipes for our cooking and language lessons. Don’t scoff at a cookbook with only ten recipes! They’re each a good example of French cooking, and can be varied in many ways. And since you’re also here to learn French, you won’t be overwhelmed by a vast number of recipes.
At first, my eyes automatically skipped over the French phrases to read the English versions, but after I’d read a while, I found my focus shifting. The French instructions started to become more familiar, and some words were so interesting that I paused to think about them. “Potatoes” really stood out to me. “Pommes de terre” translates to ‘apples of the earth’ in English. This led me to some internet research where I learned that other cultures have their own similar phrases for ‘earth apples’. Eventually I circled back round to the cookbook and continued learning how to cook a crustless quiche (I’m terrible with crusts, so that recipe was just begging me to try it.)
Immersing in another country’s culture is never a straight-line process. If you traveled to France with the goal of learning the language, you would not find the French to be static people, doing nothing but sitting around waiting to teach you a new word or two. No, you’d learn the language while participating in daily life. This cookbook is like that. The author uses what she calls TPR – Total Physical Response. It’s a way to learn French by incorporating specific physical tasks with a French command. This is how each of us gained fluency in our own native languages, after all, through hearing, responding, and doing.
My thanks to author Elisabeth de Châtillon and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.