Towards the end of last year the UK eased lockdown restrictions to the point where meeting up with people was permitted. Alas, it didn’t go very well and – understandably – our country is back in a pretty strict state at the moment.
However, in that small window where it looked like things were getting better, I met up with one of my friends – Lily – who asked me about various things relating to my experience teaching Maths/English, living in Japan, and learning Japanese. It led to her asking if I taught Japanese and I explained that I’m not good enough to teach it properly but that I do sometimes run study groups for “getting into” Japanese self-study. What this really means is that we drill hiragana and katakana (collectively “kana”), learn some useful survival phrases, and then just kinda springboard into sharing pieces of our own self-study and trying to really motivate each other to “keep at it!” with as much cultural discussion as possible.
So I started a little study group with Lily, our friend Josh (we actually all know each other from Magic: the Gathering, funnily enough), and then pretty soon after, my friend Beth and her partner Adam joined, and my cousin Elin too!
We had maybe two months of weekly sessions, bashing our way through the kana, and discussing little bits of “when I was studying, this thing didn’t make sense” issues they were having.
It was pretty successful!
I’m someone who just likes having people round my place for food and chilling out, which is exactly what we did under the umbrella of these Japanese classes.
I hope we resume when the country is a little more settled down and meeting up like this is OK again.
One evening we had a bit of a “Jim Miles special” for dinner: the British dish “Toad in the Hole”. It is a large batter pudding (or Yorkshire pudding) with sausages inside, usually served with gravy (+onions) and some veg on the side. On this occasion we had some mashed potato too, which Lily made!
Afterwards I decided to make a captioned picture in Japanese. I realised that it would be most natural to transliterate “Toad in the Hole” as “トードインザホール” (“tohh-doh-in-zah-hohh-roo”) but on this occasion it felt more amusing to me to try a more literal way, even if – of course – the result would be somewhat wonky Japanese that a native speaker might find baffling. This was my first attempt:
“watashitachi wa ana-chū ni hikigaeru o tabemasu”
we eat ‘toad in the hole’
When I worked at Neo Culture Club I had told my boss Rie (and many of our students) all about “Toad in the Hole”. They were fascinated by British culture and surprised that I enjoyed cooking – they were always asking me about traditional British food and encouraging me to work information about it into our lessons.
So naturally I sent the above image to Rie and explained that I knew it was kind of nonsense but perhaps she could help me make it better while keeping the wacky “literal” version of “Toad in the Hole”. She was very amused and told me that “穴の中のヒキガエル” would perhaps be better, so I made an updated image:
I reiterate that the transliteration “トードインザホール” would be the most “normal” way to write a foreign dish like this and doing it in literal Japanese is just a bit of fun, but I’m very thankful to Rie for rolling with it and helping me 🙂
Image credit: I took the picture on that night in October 2020. Left is my cousin Elin, Lily in the middle, and Josh on the right. Where is Jim? I’m taking the picture 😀