Cook Your Way to Arabic Language: A Recipe for Success
Have you acquired a new lockdown skill? Is it cooking? Great! Now it’s time to mix it up with your Arabic learning techniques. Middle Eastern Cuisine is on the rise and restaurants that serve Mid-eastern dishes are skyrocketing.
If you are planning to travel or even live in an Arab country then learning few recipes will help you learn the language and make yourself feel at home.
Food and Arab Culture
The Muslim prohibition on pork is known worldwide, but there is more to discover about Mid-eastern food culture than this. Arabs are famous for their generosity and hospitality and these two characters know no boundaries when it comes to food. Serving food is one of Arab’s ways to honor their guests. And it works the other way round; bringing food to your Arab’s host will easily make you win their hearts.
Arabs are not as much carnivores as they sound, you will be amazed by the many vegetarian dishes available on the Arab menu like Koshary, Hummus, Mujaddara, Fatousch and many others. Vegetables and grains are in the heart of every dish and bread in one of the staples on any Arab table. So, since food is one of the gates to Arab culture, here are some ways to help you elevate your Arabic through food:
Talk about food
People from every culture love to talk about food and Arabs are no exception. Take advantage from every get-together with Arabic native speakers to talk about their favorite food, favorite restaurants, if they tried any dish from your culture. Engaging in casual conversations can help break the ice and build your vocabulary.
Cook with a native
In addition to the many culinary tips you are going to receive, you have a chance to grab many verbs in the imperative form which is used a lot around the kitchen. Cooking with an elder person is even better especially if they don’t know your language. Not only you will build your food vocabulary but you can also hear some interesting facts and stories about the origin of the food and its history in the family.
Watch Arabic cooking shows
Cooking shows are full of visual aids and almost every action is done in front of your eyes. Since Arabic is talked in many dialects, find a dialect that you are already familiar with and listen to it on a daily basis. Start to train your ears by listening to cooking shows in different dialects and learn to make the differentiation between each dialect. It might be hard at the beginning but your brain will pick it up especially if you watch them regularly.
Shop in a local market
Local market is the beating heart of every city. Yes fancy markets have nicely wrapped products and you will not be dodging people around you all the time, but local markets are a great workout for your Arabic. Arab vendors love to talk and they will give you food lessons without even asking for one. The market is an ideal place to practice numbers in Arabic and even bargaining when you there is a chance. So, before venturing into a market, practice some basic phrases and questions you know you will need.
Discuss the menu with the waiter
When you are studying Arabic and you go to a restaurant, the menu becomes your student book and the waiter or waitress becomes your teacher. Of course you needs to be brief, the man or woman needs to work. However, your attempts to talk in Arabic will be very welcomed; Arabs love to hear foreigners speak their language.
Photos taken in Ahlan Schools in Alexandria, Cairo and Jordan.