Before I started to write cookbooks, I taught grade school. Standing in front of 24 Danish children, ages 10, 11 and 12, was not an easy job. I had been in Denmark six years, and although I had gotten an education, I thought I was doing just fine speaking Danish. The children didn’t, and it was next to impossible to get them to settle down.
Four tables with six children each laughing, joking and in general prepared to make trouble, was a horrible start on my first day. Getting a job as a foreigner was not easy and after applying to fifteen, twenty jobs, I finally got a job teaching children home economics.
Six girls sat at the first table. I began to call out their names. Jane, Jonna, Johanne, Judy, Jenna, Jenne. Six girls at one table all with names that started with “J”. Of course, I pronounced them all wrong, and it caused quite a commotion, the first of many.
“Jane,” I called out, pronouncing the name in the American way. No answer. The girls sitting at the table looked around the room as they were looking for a Jane.
“Com’on,” I said in my dreadful Danish. “There must be a Jane here because I have twenty-four names here and as far as I can see, there are twenty-four of you.”
A pretty girl of ten or eleven raised her hand. “It could be me, but we pronounce my name as “Ana.” Yes, of course, I thought to myself, the Danes don’t pronounce J. “Listen,” I said, “why don’t you tell me who you are and I will check off your names.” Once again, the room was filled with noise and laughter as they all began to talk at the same time.
I lifted my arms and yelled, “Stop, stop” one of the few English words that were close to Danish “stoppe” and most of the Danish children understood. After a few minutes, they were quiet enough to continue. “I will point to you one at a time, and you tell me your name.” I pointed to the girl sitting next to “Ana,” and she quickly responded with “Annah.” I searched my list and after a few attempts to find “Annah” I asked her again.
“Annah, Annah,” she said as quickly as she could, then turned to the girlfriend and made a sign with her hand like I was crazy.
“How do you spell that?” I said, and the class roared with laughter.
And so it went. That night at home I told my husband about my day.
“They laughed at me when I wrote on the blackboard. The more words I misspelled, the harder they laughed. It was very unpleasant.”
“You’ll just have to be better prepared.”
“You are right, but how?” I asked, feeling sorry for myself. “I guess I could learn to spell all the words I intend to write on the blackboard before every class, but they tease me about my accent.”
That night I went into my bedroom, closed the door, and I practiced what I was going to say in the next day’s lesson in front of the mirror. I talked out loud as if the children were sitting before me in the classroom, enunciating every word. Wanting to be sure the words that I would be writing on the blackboard were correct, I memorized all that I could think of that I would be using in the day’s lesson. Not having grown up in Denmark, I learned a lot about the school system, and I liked working with children. Today recipe is an all-time favorite of all the children I ever taught. It is also popular with adults.
Burning Love – Bacon, Onions and Mashed Potatoes
1½ kilo/3 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch)
1½ cups/12 oz. milk
30 grams/1 oz. butter
salt and pepper
250 grams/8-9 oz. bacon, cut into mindre pieces
2 large onions, finely chopped
Garnish: red beets, diced
To make, boil the potatoes in unsalted water. Fry the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat. Remove the bacon and fry the onions in the remaining fat. Mash the potatoes and beat in the warm milk and butter until fluffy .Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the mashed potatoes on four plates and come onions and bacon on top of the mashed potatoes. Garnish each plate with red beets.