Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Foreign Language House

Do you remember the movie Breaking Away from back in the seventies? The main character was obsessed with the Italian cycling team and drove his father crazy speaking Italian around the house? We have a similar situation in our home. My husband, Kent, served an L.D.S. mission in Germany from 1980 to 1982. As is the case with most L.D.S. missionaries, he developed a love for the people he served and for their language. He’s still speaking it. Which is great - how many of us can speak a second language? He probably speaks it better now than when he lived in Germany all those years ago. But sometimes, usually when it’s early in the morning and we’re all getting ready for work and school, it can be a little… Well, Kent’s a real morning person, and the rest of us really aren’t. He’s quite chipper around the house in the morning, and chipper in a foreign language somehow comes across as extra chipper. And when he speaks German, he tends to shout it out:

“Guten Morgen, Meine Frau! Gut geschlafen?”
“Ach! Meine Kinder! Habt ihr gut geschlafen?”
“Was soll ich zum Frühstück essen?”

Fortunately, I speak some German and the kids have studied it at school. When they reached junior high they thought “Why not? We’ll probably have a head start.”

We also, of all odd things, have memorized quite a few hymns from the German version of the L.D.S. hymn book and we sing them during Family Night regularly (if you can call what we do singing). At church one recent Sunday, someone made a comment about occasionally singing a hymn in a foreign language. My son Jeff turned to me and whispered, “Sounds like us.” I whispered back, “No, we occasionally sing a hymn in English.” But only if the kids and I insist.

Two years ago, our oldest son, Kurt, received a call to serve a mission in Brazil. He was really excited. And so was his dad. Kent went right out and bought the Pimsler Language Course for Portuguese.

The next morning we got up for school and work.

“Bom dia! Como vai?”
“Você fala Portuguêse?”

And it was on to Portuguese. Kent was riding his bike to work most days. Ten miles there and ten miles back listening to Pimsler CDs through his ipod.

“Adeus, minha esposa!” he’d holler at me on his way out the door in the morning.

And “O restaurante fica na esquina!” he’d holler at me when he walked back in at the end of the day.

We’ve all picked up a few phrases over the past couple of years. And Kent can’t wait to try out his Portuguese on Kurt when he gets home in a few weeks. But in the meantime, Jeff has received his mission call. He’s going to (drum roll) Germany! He is very excited. And so is his Dad.

The morning after we got the big news, we all got up for work and school. Naturally Kent was the first one up and I could hear him in the shower, belting out the German National Anthem:

“Deutschland, Deutschland über alles
Über alles in der Welt!”

When Kurt found out where Jeff was going, he wrote the following in an e-mail:

Dude, Germany! That’s awesome! Dad must be off his hinges with joy. I bet he’s already trying to teach you German. He tried to teach me Portuguese and he didn’t even speak it.

Yes, it’s been back to German around here for the most part. Imagine how interesting it could get in a few years when we find out where Joel will serve?

German Cooking

Kent got me a special present for Christmas – a German cookbook. Oh great, many of you women may be thinking, a cookbook, just what every woman wants for Christmas. But the real gift is that, after twenty-five years of marriage, Kent is taking up cooking. I really don’t know if that was his intent when he bought me the cookbook, but that’s how I chose to interpret the gift. He’s gone along with it. So far he’s made potato pancakes and deep fried cauliflower. The potato pancakes were pretty good, but the cauliflower was fabulous. I know. Deep frying cauliflower kind of takes away from the whole idea of its being good for us. But I really don’t think it’s in the nature of cauliflower to absorb a whole lot of oil. It really didn’t seem too bad. Besides, I’ve heard that in the Netherlands they deep fry Milky Way bars. Makes this recipe seem okay.

Gebackener Blumenkohl

(Deep Fried Cauliflower)

from Culinaria Germany

1 head cauliflower


3 eggs

white pepper

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

4 tbsp flour

½ cup white breadcrumbs

oil for deep frying

Rinse the cauliflower, trim, then divide into florets. Cook the florets in boiling, salted water for about ten minutes, until just tender. Strain the florets, refresh in cold water, and drain well. Beat the eggs with a little salt, white pepper, and the nutmeg. Toss the florets first in flour, then dip them in beaten eggs, and toss them in the breadcrumbs. Fry batches of cauliflower in hot oil and drain on paper towels.


  1. How fun for Jeff! What a fun mission. I can't believe how grown up all your boys are.

  2. Your post is cracking me up! I love your family! Kent is a lot like my dad, who is also an overly chipper morning person, also served a mission in Germany, and also loves to belt out songs in German. He's famous for his German version of the mid-sixties hit "Downtown." I can only think of the words in German. I am going to send him your cauliflower recipe. Have you ever eaten at Siegfried's (German Deli) in Salt Lake? I hear good things about that place.