Review – The 4-Hour Chef, Tim FERRISS

I discovered the 4hour books from Tim FERRISS through the 4-hour body then continued with the 4-hour Work week (his first book chronologically speaking). 4 hour chef is the most recent, published in November 2012.

At first look and reading the first glimpse when it was first announced, its main topic seemed to be cooking, not real interest for me. Coming back a few months later, I read the subtitle "The simple path to cook like a pro, learning anything and living the good life" and it was a must-have since I am struggling with learning everyday since 2 years now.

As a whole, 5 parts: Meta, Domestic, Wild, Scientist and Professional, each one focusing on a specific set of topics:

  • META is about learning

  • DOM: skills and recipe at use for the everyday cook

  • WILD: simply put: trick on how to survive or "live quite a cozy life while in the middle of nowhere and with next to nothing"

  • SCI: the science behind cooking and how to use it to get better

  • PRO: a few more recipe and tricks with more advanced skills

Most important for me is META, gives the basics and tricks for learning (but the other parts are also worth reading. And cooking).

Many tricks are explained but I was struck by this graph:

(From The 4-hour Chef, Tim FERRISS).

It explained many problems I had with learning and the wall phenomenon I too often get stuck with.

The explanation goes along this way: let’s say you want to be "fluent" (meaning being able to discuss some topics for 5/10 minutes without being stuck or sounding like a child in disarray), in 8 months, the various phases you go through are the following:

  • Encounter: everything is new, so basically, what you learn, you use fast

  • Peak of set phrases: OK, you understand and can you some sentences and you are starting to learn how to structure everything but then

  • Paralysis by analysis (the WALL for me): you realize you know nothing and that the path is long in front of you

  • Depression and going out: you find a way to structure your learning, see your progress (and stick to that) and find learning material you are interested in (learning with a purpose)

  • Slowly incorporating all the grammar things you saw on top of the peak

  • Strong progress ahead

The X axis gives you a time-scale for the different phases. So if you want to learn in less or more than 8 months, you have to taylor the graph accordingly. Using the other tricks in his book, he went from learning Japanese in 1 year, to Chinese in 6 months, German in 3 months and Spanish in 8 weeks. I am no judge of his true fluency but he seemed pretty good at Japanese and German. 

Still worth a try.

If you have a few bucks to spend, want some learning tricks and want to learn how to cook, the book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle format:

LOFTER:A French in Taishan


New year resolutions – 2013 edition

First, happy new year everyone !

Like every year, I selected some goals for this year.

As part of the game, I took a look in the mirror and was pleased to see that I managed to fulfill last year’s resolutions. My goals were to find a new job and go to China or Japan. I made it simple: I found a new job in China.

So, here are this year resolutions:

  • Learn Chinese (Everyday issues by march, small texts by june and confident by september)

  • Learn to cook some Cantonese dishes compliant with the SCD

  • Exercise more

No more in order to be able to fulfill them and keep them manageable.

And then, a good omen was seen, but this will need at least two other (longer) posts.

LOFTER:A French in Taishan

Learning Materials


Let’s do as if I were back on track with my learning (instead of chatting on QQ with Google Translate opened).

Above is most of the learning material I use (or should be using):

  • Short term spoken Chinese: good book serie. I started with the pre-intermediary (how foolish of me…) ordered on Amazon and got hit with a solid wall of pure Chinese characters. So I bought the elementary while in Beijing. Explanations are both in Chinese and English, 3 dialogues by lessons exercises. So far, so good
  • Complete Cantonese and Complete Mandarin. First books I bought, first for Cantonesebecause this was the only one available and being satisfied with it, bought the Mandarin course when I understood Cantonese wouldn’t be of much help. A bit disappointed right now because not so many practical, Hanzi are studied quite late and some grammar points are piled in some lessons while others are really light. Thus my focus on the Spoken Chinese serie
  • A practical Chinese Grammar for foreigners. Last minute purchase in Beijing. Just as a reference later on.
  • Laozi and Confucius. Well a bit of a mad idea of mine. Wanted to learn writting the ancient way and it looked like a good idea. These (chinese) editions come with both translation notes and explanations so one day, I might also understand what I have written all along…
  • HSK: to assess my level from time to time. Haven’t used it yet.
  • Extreme Chinese: just to have a look at some funny idioms

This said, maybe I should start studying.

But no, tonight is ironing night…

LOFTER:A French in Taishan


As long as the Great Firewall is standing, I can’t access my own WordPress blog. If you want to leave a comment, please do so on the original post here

Finding motivation for learning Part 2

So sorry for the broken post. I will BURN this "phone" and its lousy cursor positionning system.

For those who were asking, I met a girl. And she meets the above description and the rest is my problem ^_^

So I now have no choice but to get better. Especially when a chat around a drink is coming into the cinversation…

I may also have written about this but living in Taishan is a chance for me to learn. Two recwnt examples have thrown this to me.

First, a very good friend if mine just moved to Japan, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Full of good intent, she brushed up her Japanese before her departure, dealt with the first days then started to live. And realized she could live speaking English without too many problems. And stopped learning.

Then, during the past days in Beijing, I heard people speaking French, almost as much in two days than in the whole three last months. I saw foreigners proud to meet only foreigners.

This can’t happen in Taishan. I have to fit in. First for respect, then because I want to. Now back to textbooks…

Finding motivation for learning

Three posts in two days, I am on fire (or just feeling guilty not to write more / more regularly). Please excuse me for the typos, wrting on a mobile phone on a bus is not the best way to be accurate.
I just went through a difficult time learning Chinese. I must hace made some progress but hit the wall and lost faith. Vocabulary wasn’t helping me. Answering the phone is a challenge. Saying more than hello to people in my company is impossible. In short, after three months, I suck.

Strangely enough, I am kind of better at writting. Writting un Chinese is iften seen as difficult task at best. For me it is a challenge. A positive one. I havr always been more confident among writting than people and herre there is so much to read. Every sign is an adventure, a hill waiting to be climbed.

So I quickly registered a QQ account. For thise who are not familiar with it, let’s just say it like MSN Live Messenger. Just bigger. And omnipresent. People use it partly like Twitter, with friends, at work, for work (product quotation built all over QQ) …
It also the advantage that i can use tranlation tools like Google Translate, Baidu Fanyi or Nciku whilr chatting and it us a huge plus.

And sometime you meet people. Who can’t speak english. People you definitely want to discuss with. oOK

2 days in Beijing

Just sitting in the airport right now writting this while waiting for a flight due in two hours, delay not included…

Two days in Biejing. Some spend this long during a trip in China and find themselve happy to know the city but for me, it was too short. But it may be an excuse to come back.

First, because I worked on the first day. And work, wherever it takes place, is the same. I sat in a Starbuck, very similar to one in Paris/Tokyo/Wherever and that was all.
Yesterday was a day off, so I could really visit and try to feel the city. As most tourists, I went to Tiananmen and the forbidden city. Everyone warned me I was only about to see people but going there at 08:30, I had whole part of the Forbidden City for myself. The freewing cold my be another reason why people stayed at home (even found a small patch of snow).
I found the Forbidden City monstruously huge but near empty. It lacks contents except big walls and colourful paintings. I was told many of the objects were taken to Taiwan around 1949. Maybe I will have to go there sometime to see that too.
3 hours later, I was out by the north door and wondering where to go. The Summer Palace was on possibility, the Bird Nest, the other.
I did none of these.
Instead I walked to Wangfujing, a pedestrian street not too far from the forbidden city. I had some shopping to do (finding a dictionnary with pinyin, you wouldn’t imagine how hard it was. Needed 2 bookstore and 2 hours to find it). As a tourist two things are intersting in this street. First the Beijing Handcraft center, where, if your purse can handle it, you can find many souvenirs. The second is the Dajian Shuijing Hutong where you can find other (manufactured) souvenirs but mostly food. If you have seen picture of silk worm or scorpio brochettes, some may have been taken here. Hopefully, there are many other food to be tested.

So actually, I didn’t visit much. But maybe some other time, with some better ideas of what to see and where to go

Final note: I may soon migrate the blog to another platform. WordPress is blocked in China and publishing everything by mail does not offer half the possibility of a true blogging platform. Stay tune, more news at the beginning of next year