Eliana Conquers the Raclette

The past 5 months in Germany for me have been comparable to cooking a large
steak on a raclette grill. In theory it should work, but in reality you might need to cut the
steak into smaller pieces. For those who don’t know, raclette is a type of indoor party grill
that is very popular in Germany, or at least in the Northern part of Germany where I am
staying. It is fairly small in size and has a top stove level and a middle level with
radiating heat to cook your food from top and bottom. Normally, thin slices of meat and
vegetables are cooked on it and then cheese is melted over the top, and while it cooks
people sit around and talk. I have found it to be quite delightful, so delightful in fact that
my Host Mother thought it would be a lovely present to send home to my family in the
U.S. As we were searching for one on amazon we stumbled across the comments on the
grill from Americans. Most of them were quite disappointed by the turn out of the
product, because it was unable to properly cook through large steak slabs. The idea that
someone would attempt to cook a steak on this tiny grill is beyond me, but it is no
wonder that it was not working for them, as raclette is not capable of reaching high
cooking temperatures. However, as I continued to think about the reviews for the grill I
began to realize that my expectations for myself were not so far off from the comments
on this raclette grill. In the beginning of my exchange I was convinced that if I just tried
hard enough to understand the culture and language around me that I would in a very
short amount of time figure it out, which disappointed me greatly when I found after
three months I still was unable to say everything I wanted to say and daily life, although
easier, was still fairly difficult language wise. And although this was a nasty realization, I
found that when I began to relax enough to ask questions and laugh at my own mistakes
that I could really absorb more of the experience around me. For example, I have been
able to begin to participate in class discussions, despite the fact that what I might say is
not grammatically correct. Being able to cut the unrealistic steak of my self expectations,
although difficult and a continual struggle, has helped me to open my eyes to the reality
of my experience around me, and as I make progress things are starting to get cooking.

Eliana and friends eating Raclette Essen together on New Years Day!