Cooking as a Second Language

Aside from the usual lack of training, the general inexperience and the tendency to procrastinate, there’s something else that slows me down on my path to become the next Batalli, Emeril or in my case Wolfgang Puck: Language. I constantly get frying and roasting mixed up and really don’t have a name for the act of leaving a casserole dish in the oven for some time. I understand some of the cooking methods need to be defined even for the native speaker, which gives me an easy excuse to be confused about some of them.

Let’s have a look what we have to deal with: Cooking, boiling, broiling, grilling, frying, roasting, baking, sautéing, steaming. Now for the research on the subject:

Cooking is the generic term for it all, which is already the first stumbling block, because in German, it has the same meaning as boiling. Boiling is cooking something in water brought to a boil, which usually happens around 100C or 212F.

Let’s call broiling a technicality and skip to grilling which is done on a grill, which in German is a rost. Rost is called a false friend, something that sounds familiar in the other language but has a different meaning. But let’s go back to grilling, which is applying heat to the subject, usually meat, with the grill keeping the meat from falling into the fire.

Frying is difficult, since a frying pan translated means roasting pan, which makes you want to get your head banged by one. Frying involves cooking in various amounts of oil. Sautéing covers the pan in a thin film, you need a good deal more for frying, and when deep frying, your subject, usually twinkies, is submerged in it.

I think roasting is grilling in a pan or on a baking(!&?%) sheet in the oven. Your subject is often basted in tasty goodness. Casseroles, in the oven, without a lid are baked. Baking in general applies to cakes, pastries and pizzas. In short, a lot of it involves dough, except for baked potatoes.

Steaming involves boiling water. The resulting vapor cooks the food while we try to keep the water away from the food. Back home, steaming involves German engineered pots, which makes it far more complicated than necessary and mostly overcooked.

But I still don’t have a term for cooking something in a casserole dish with the lid on.

Author: Feliz

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