I may have mentioned before that I’m a teacher now. I teach English here in Italy, in a private language school. I’m a pretty shitty teacher, probably. My didactic skills are OK, and students love me, that’s not the point. The point is the contents of my lessons. I’m not necessarily teaching what I should be teaching.
Most of my students are bankers, or managers, or business people of some description, and many of them are being subjected to the embarrassment of taking an English course by their superiors. The times they are a-changing, and now that everyone has to work more or less internationally, demand for decent English speakers has gone up. These people are meant to be doing business English, which means talking about the economy, investment banking, meetings, time management – soul-crushingly boring topics. That’s where it all goes horribly wrong.
You see, it’s to be expected that I don’t give a crap about investment banking, but strangely enough, most of my students don’t really seem to care about it, either. Some of them do, and with those I’ll make the effort to struggle through chapter after chapter about fictional enterprises and their business strategies. With the others, in order to make the experience somewhat less traumatic for all parties involved, I’ll do whatever.
My lesson materials have ranged from articles about the legalisation of marijuana in Jamaica to podcasts about coffee addiction to musical gap-fill activities to The Ace of Spades by Motörhead. Once I brought in an article with comprehension questions about the right way to eat crisps, and I still recall it as one of my better lessons. This is the trick: finding something that interests your students, and basing your programme on that.
As we’re in Italy, almost all of my students love to talk about food. It’s that one magical subject that gets everybody chatting. And sometimes, it works out to my advantage, and I manage to pick up a secret recipe. Like the time that two of my students insisted I go to the Salone del Gusto, and I told them after I’d gone about how I bought some bergamotto there. We discussed the various uses I could put them to, and one of them gave me a recipe for salmon with lemon, invented by her father. It calls for lemons rather than bergamot, and in the end that’s what I ended up using, because I finished my bergamots for bergamot tarte before I ever had the chance to flavour my salmon with it. Either way, it was good!
For two, use:
- Two big fat slices of salmon
- one lemon
- some white wine, about a glass full
- three carrots
- one onion
- some celery
- some parsley
- 3 cloves of garlic (optional – I like garlic)
This recipe is kinda easy. Peel the vegetables that need peeling, then chop everything up in medium sized chunks, the lemon into thick slices (go for half moons, they look cute that way), and halve the garlic cloves. Clean the parsley, get rid of the hardest parts of the stems, chop very roughly. Throw it all in an oven dish together with the salmon and the white wine. Mix, and leave in the fridge to marinade for an hour or so.
Drain about half the wine, arrange the vegetables and lemon so that the salmon is lying on top of them, slightly higher than what’s left of the wine. Now put it in the oven on 200 degrees for about 15, maybe 20 minutes.