My little boy loves cooking, and he loves following Jamie Oliver’s recipes. So when I saw Jamie Oliver’s cook books in China I didn’t hesitate to buy! Integrated English, Health, Maths, Home Economics, Chinese…and the pleasure of making dinner for the family…all wrapped in fun and yummy food!
Jamie’s Chinese name is 杰米奥利弗 Jiémǐ Aolìfú (to see how a Chinese name is made you can click here). And this book is his 15 minute meals, or 十五分钟开饭 (shíwǔ fēnzhōng kāifàn), literally ’15 minutes serve a meal’.
Lucas loves making a ‘fancy weekend dinner’ for the family, so straight away he looked through the recipes, this is the one he picked to make this weekend for us. Lucas can follow an English recipe independently with ease now…so I have given him the task of making this dinner for us, with no help from me…from translation, to shopping, to cooking (of course I will go to the shops with him and monitor the stove top cooking bits :-))
‘Glazed sizzling chops with sweet tomato and asparagus lasgnetti’. So Lucas set to translating the recipe. Lucas can recognize about 75% of characters in a regular text. That doesn’t mean he will know 75% of all the ‘words’ in the text, just the ‘characters’ that will make up those words. His strategy therefore is to type the whole recipe out, using the pinyin for the characters that he knows, and looking up the ones he doesn’t know in a handwriting recognition tool. Once he has the whole recipe typed out, it is then easy to look up the words that he doesn’t know using online tools.
Some words just don’t come up in even the most updated dictionaries, because new words are being formed all the time in China. As western food products increase in the market, phonetic names are made up for them, and often different areas of China may have different names. For example 帕尔玛干酪 (pronounced ‘pà ěr mǎ gān lào”, Lucas knew ‘gān lào’ as cheese. But an element of common sense guessing had to be used with the ‘pà ěr mǎ’ bit…a word in an Italian Pasta recipe…a kind of cheese…it didn’t take long to work out that ‘pà ěr mǎ’ was a phonetic for ‘parmesan’. After spending some time in Kunming, Lucas knows that only a handful of very upmarket supermarkets with international sections would stock such an item as parmesan cheese. So words like these can take a while to appear in online dictionaries.
Next Lucas had to write a shopping list of the ingredients that he needed, taking into account the quantities/measurements and making sure it’s enough for all 4 of us. So he printed his typed out list and wrote the English over the top. His translation for a ten year old is pretty amazing I think 🙂 (Please note I don’t correct any work of my children as I believe they ‘improve’ without the need of a teacher’s red pen). A few mistakes like writing ‘kg’ instead of ‘g’ they realise themselves…it is much more powerful for kids to find their own mistakes than have a teacher point them out 🙂
The dinner was an absolute hit…and an amazing feeling of accomplishment for Lucas…not only did he prepare, cook and serve a really fancy yummy dinner for our family’s Friday night chill…he had to translate the recipe from Chinese beforehand…some pretty amazing skills being developed 🙂
Ok…the work involved to get this recipe translated, shopped, prepared and on our dinner table was more like 15 hours spread over the week… not 15 minutes 🙂 But who cares…in the moment, meaningful and rewarding learning 🙂