My host family and I have been doing a bit of cooking together during my time learning French in France. In the lessons at the ILA Immersion School in Montpellier we are doing several different subjects alongside the language course; such as business French and culture. In one of the latter lessons we had discussed the specialities of the different regions within France and I set out to cook a few of them with my hosts assigned to me by the French language school. One evening my French host family asked if we could cook a traditional English recipe and I thought it would be fun to cook a Victoria Sponge.
Explaining the Baking Revolution to My French Host Family
At the moment there are no other British people in my French lessons and my host family here in Montpellier had not had a British person stay with them before. So I enjoyed enlightening them to the current baking revolution in full swing in the UK spurred on mainly by the hit show ‘The Great British Bake-Off’. The Victoria Sponge is a classic simple recipe that is not only delicious but also looks classy and features the colours of the English flag.
It was the first trip to the supermarket to buy baking ingredients so the son of my host family and I had fun trying to figure out what the correct translations were. Baking soda was the hardest.
How is this Helping my French Studies in Montpellier
This was a great experience that I feel really engrained certain things I had learnt on my French language immersion course. As I had made the cake before the roles were reversed and I was in charge. I was delegating jobs so I had to be sure of what I wanted to say; the vocabulary for the ingredients and the specific grammar so there wasn’t any confusion in what needed doing. The Victoria Sponge does not have a lot of ingredients but it does require quite a delicate hand when preparing it with flour sieved in a specific way for a specific time so it was essential that I utilised all my French language skills. Before when I was the sous chef for the French recipes I was able to just piece together what they wanted me to do from the gestures and similar words but as the chief you were more engaged.
Eating the Reward with My French Host Family
So once the bake was done we smeared on the buttercream and jam and gently squeezed the spheres of cake together which was strangely therapeutic. After that I learned the French for ‘sprinkle’ when I asked Guylaine to put some icing sugar on the cake. It’s ‘saupoudrer’ which I like, I find when I’m doing things like this with my host family in Montpellier you discover vocabulary that is just lovely to learn but is rare that you come across it. So we took a few photos and then cut a few slices and had a little try. It was delicious if I do say so myself.
We had bought ourselves some dessert wine to enjoy with it too. A lovely bottle of sauternes seemed fitting, the double sweet combination was incredible but not something you could have a lot of. As there were only three of us eating we had plenty left over for me to take to the ILA French language school the next day.
Another great little activity for you to try with your host family while learning French in France. It’s a great way to share a bit of culture and practice the French language in a different way and also have some good fun in the process. If you take the leftovers into the ILA French Immersion School the next day you’ll be sure to make yourself some friends too.