Can You Cook? In English?

Hello!  Can you cook?  I’m not a very good cook, I prefer eating. 

I have put an asterisk   =  *    after the harder English words and phrases and there are vocabulary reference points after each section.




When I think of cooking I immediately think of my mum standing stirring* a pan* of gravy,* and making chips and sausages, on a Saturday evening when I was a child.  When I think of professional chefs and cooks, I picture Audrey Hepburn in the film Sabrina at the French cooking class, failing* terribly at making a soufflé*, or Meryl Streep in the film Julie and Julia, playing the American expert on French cuisine Julia Child.  Then I think of Gordon Ramsey looking for perfection and finally, the funny image that comes to my mind is the rat*, Remy I think he was called from the movie Ratatouille. So, when I think of cooking I never think of myself doing it, which is a little odd.*


  1. A quote related to food
  2. Basic vocabulary for in the kitchen
  3. The pronunciation and meaning of RECIPE
  4. A French Onion Soup recipe from Julia Child
  5. A little about Julia Child
  6. Cooking sayings and idioms
  7. The most expensive ingredients
  8. An apple pie quiz, dictionaries recommended.




Franz Kafka expressed so simply something which is true but often we forget in our hectic*  lifestyles.



  • to stir = to move around the contents of a container.
  • A pan = a metal container used for cooking over the heat on the hob
  • gravy = a warm meat sauce
  • to fail = to not be successful
  • soufflé = a French dessert, pudding
  • rat = a large rodent, see the picture above with a rat preparing a tomato sauce.
  • odd = strange, unusual
  • hectic = very busy and stressful 


Basic Cooking Verbs


cooking verbs
Thankyou to for such a brilliant visual guide.


Basic Kitchen Vocabulary




The Meaning & Pronunciation of Recipe



This word is very often a mystery for English learners because it isn’t pronounced like it is spelt and if you aren’t talking about food or watching something about food you won’t usually hear the word said.

Click here to watch the Recipe pronunciation video on YouTube



Listening comprehension with French Onion Soup* recipe.


Julia Child made a TV programme with a wonderful demonstration and recipe of how to make a soup.*  She speaks very clearly and there are subtitles in English. If you have trouble with understanding, read the subtitle then watch what she is doing because she is demonstrating the actions and showing you, or if you need to you could pause the video and check in a dictionary the words you can’t guess from context.



Click here to watch Julia Child making French Onion Soup on YouTube


Vocabulary:  soup = a nutritious liquid or cream usually eaten at the beginning of a meal. The pronunciation is (sooop).


A little about Julia Child


Julia Child was famous for introducing French Cuisine to the United States with her books and TV programmes.  She was an optimist and passionate about what she did. She was surprisingly tall – 6 foot 2 inches tall.  I loved the film Julie and Julia, where she was played by Meryl Streep.  Her personality seems wonderful!


Image from PBS food web page


She is also famous for these wonderful quotes:

Cooking is not a chore*, it is a joy*.  Dining* is not a fuel stop*, it is a recreation.

A party without cake is just a meeting.

Find something your are passionate about and keep tremendously* interested in it.

People who love to eat are always the best people.



Click here to watch a 4 minute biography of Julia Child

Click here to find out more about Julia Child



  • chore = a job you need to do. e.g. washing the dishes
  • joy = something that brings happiness
  • dining = eating 
  • fuel stop = like a petrol station to get more supplies of energy
  • tremendously = extremely



3 Cooking proverbs and idioms


Since cooking has always been a part of our lives ever since they tried putting the wild pig, or whatever animal they had caught, over a fire to make it more tender,* it is not surprising that there are proverbs and idioms with cooking.  Here are 3 which are very commen in natural spoken English.


Too many cooks spoil* the broth*.

This proverb means that  many people trying doing the same task will not have good results.


Out of the frying pan*, into the fire.

This idiom means that someone has left one bad situation, and has then gone to a worse one.  They said this in the J.R.Tolkein book The Hobbit.


To grill* someone.

This idiom means to question someone intensely/interrogate.



  • tender = for cooked meat this means that it is easier to chew (break up with our teeth).
  • spoil = to make something bad. e.g. If you leave the cheese out in the sun it will spoil.
  • broth = a think soup with many pieces of vegetables or meat in.
  • frying pan = a flat, low pan often where we fry eggs.
  • grill = the grill is an area in the oven where we toast things, the verb is to put something under that intense heat in the oven.



What are the most expensive food ingredients in the world?


For me, buying expensive food means a packet of smoked salmon, or maybe take-away sushi once a week but these food ingredients are in a whole different league* when it comes to price!  Have you eaten any of these? Did you like it?




The original article by is very interesting.  All these photos are thanks to their webpage.   Click here to read the full article on the most expensive foods.


Vocabulary:  to be in a different league to something else means that the other thing is so much better or more expensive or more beautiful…



Apple Pie Quiz!


Can you fill in the missing vocabulary using a dictionary?

I’ll put the answers in Thursday’s article.




Tomorrow I will buy the ingredients for the official Julia Child onion soup recipe and try to make it this week. Wish me luck!

On Thursday, I’ll be talking about some of the words and instructions we can see on a ready-meal packet! Real survival English! Hehe.  And I’ll post the answers to the Apple pie vocabulary quiz.

Have a great week!


P.S. Here are all my references, links used and videos related to this in my pinterest album.

Click here to visit my Pinterest Album “Can you Cook in English?”












About Kim Griffiths

Hello, I'm Kim. I'm a qualified English ESL teacher with a CELTA A qualification and I have over 25 years of experience teaching English to non-native speakers. I love teaching! I also write about English, sing jazz, paint and make things.

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