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Bilingual news and shares about the brain, languages and coaching

Newsletter 23 - Food

thein NeuroLanguage Coaching®

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

―Virginia Woolf

In my last newsletter, I went over a short list of foods which, according to science, can influence our brain’s health and our overall cognitive functions. This week, I want you to be reminded of how magically food can help you learn a language and beyond that, a culture.

Food is more than sustenance

Food is more than just a means of subsistence

To what extent can the history/culture of France and the USA be told by the fact that the French go to restaurants to eat raw meat - steak tartare - whereas Americans have decided to eat a similar piece of meat, but well-cooked and in a bun - a hamburger?

Why do the French revel in a food that smells as bad as some cheeses, while Americans tend to prefer much milder cheeses?(mind you, I do have French friends who can't stand cheese and American friends who love Roquefort and Camembert!)

Travel and taste are intimately linked. Have you ever vacationed in France? Just a simple croissant with coffee can transport you back to Paris. Picture yourself enjoying breakfast on a terrace, people-watching. Meanwhile, toasting a bagel and spreading cream cheese on it always takes me straight back to New York.

Brain newsflash (I can't help it): when we engage our senses through culinary experiences, we activate much more than just our taste buds. Different sensory regions of the brain are activated, enhancing memory and making the learning process deeper and longer-lasting. Just saying ;-)

Lost in translation

Food is a delicious way to expand your vocabulary.

I remember a couple of years ago in Spain I ordered coffee, easy enough you‘d think. Except that when I asked what they had besides espresso and cafe con leche, the waitress gave a couple of other options among which a “cortado”.

Corto means short, so I thought a short coffee would be what we call in French a “tight” coffee (un café serré) and that’s what I ordered for my partner - because he relied on me as I was the Spanish language authority (back then haha).

The Cortado turns up and there’s milk in it. So, I said in my splendidly impressive Spanish, '“we ordered a cortado not a small coffee with milk”. The waitress looked really confused and said, “this is what a cortado is”.

You see Cortado comes from “cortar”, to cut. A cortado is an espresso cut with milk. Which makes sense when you speak Spanish well. I, for some reason, had decided that ‘cortado’ and ‘corto’ were the same word!

Did anything similar ever happen to you? I’d love to know about it!

French vs American Menus : Examples

Just a heads-up: in France, 'Menu' typically means a fixed-price meal with limited options. If you're looking for the American-style 'menu' with a variety of choices, you'll need to request 'la carte'. That being said, French restaurants are quite used to tourists, so they'll understand your request for a menu. But if you're aiming to blend in like a local, now you know the lingo “la carte s’il vous plaît”.

French menu

  • Amuse bouche (ou amuse gueule): succulent little bite size pieces of heaven that comes courtesy of the chef. And you get to learn 2 new words, “amuse” and “bouche” or “gueule”.

  • Entrée (Starter): great example of how same words in the same context, have different meanings in different cultures, as "entrée" in the U.S. refers to the main course but not in French.

  • Dessert: perfect way to practice pronouncing a word that is written the same but not pronounced the same at all

American Menu

  • Appetizer: Can be similar to the French "entrée," . A French speaker would get what it means easily, ‘bon appétit’ is French after all !

  • Entree (Main Dish): very confusing for a French speaker as explained above.

  • Side Dish: in France, side dishes as they're known in the US aren't typically listed separately on menus. The common exception is "une assiette de frites," or a plate of fries. Other '“accompagnements”, like green beans or fries, are usually served on the same plate as the main dish. If you want something additional, like a small salad, it's seen not as a separate dish but rather as a little extra or a courtesy.

In my next newsletter, I'll serve up some "Food for Thought," I wonder what that’s going to be about ;-)

Want to find out more?

If you want to know more about the neuroscience of habits, you should click here

And if you want to go back on my past newsletters that cover all kinds of brain related, language related, coaching related fascinating subjects, I suggest you go to my newsletters webpage.

If you know anyone who'd be interested in signing up for my newsletter, don't hesitate to forward this newsletter to them :-)

Neurolanguage Coaching® is an amazing method that will help you learn a language more efficiently than you've ever experienced before. It brings together findings about how the brain learns bests and integrates these into a coaching process that will put you in charge of YOUR learning journey. As a Coach, I'm  the GPS to your driving. If you want to try it but are not ready to commit, I have a 2H Discovery Offer that might be just what you're looking for. Or we can just have a casual chat about it, just reply to this email.

Good to know

The Neurolanguage Coaching® certification is accredited by the ICF

 La certification est accreditée par la Fédération Internationale de Coaching

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