It’s no secret that I love my food. Making it, eating it, even just thinking about it: it’s all good. As a near-lifelong vegetarian, I can’t just point randomly at the menu in a foreign country, so foodie vocabulary is a high priority for me when learning a new language.
Fortunately, Turkish food is wonderful for vegetarians. On my first visit, I picked up the names of a few of my favourite dishes, like pide and gözleme. These are always made fresh, and there are probably a dozen or more options on the menu. Some of the vegetables are easy to figure out, like ıspanak and domates, and if you know the Indian cheese paneer then peynir also sounds familiar. But there are always some things I can’t just guess: yumurta doesn’t bear much relation to any other word I know for egg.
I need to learn the names for more vegetables, obviously. But I learnt the hard way that I also need to “know my enemies” and make sure I can recognise the meat products I want to avoid. When I was studying German in school, I skipped over meaty vocabulary (feeling my stomach churn at the very idea of Schweinefleisch), only to be stymied by a comprehension question featuring a decidedly non-veggie restaurant menu. At the time I felt a little resentful, but in the real world, it’s just as important to know what you need to steer clear of.
I’m also gradually learning to cook more Turkish cuisine, and reading original recipes is a huge (but rewarding) challenge. With a mixture of vocabulary I know or can guess, and a dictionary, and extremely patient friends, I’m starting to make progress. The structured format of a recipe is also helpful, because you know what sort of words you’re expecting, and you don’t have to worry too much about the finer points of grammar. Plus, you get a tasty result to your language lesson. Win-win, really.
Do you want to learn Turkish,too?
Try a free demo at rosettastone.co.uk/learn-turkish.