I have been in Heidelberg for a little over 4 months now, and I'm not sure if those 4 months have gone to waste, language-wise.
Today, I wanted to cook Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut chicken soup) and the recipe called for mushrooms. I went to my local Kaufland to buy the chicken, mushrooms and lemon juice. In my mind, I asked, what are "lemons" auf Deutsch? Zitron!!! I remembered. Menus and ingredients are pretty easy for me now - knoblauch, zwiebeln, kartoffeln, karotten, blumenkohl, bohnen, hahnchen, rind, etc etc. I didn't want to use fresh lemons since I saw that one of the Thai restaurants I frequented used bottled lemon juice, so I tried to find those.
"Haben Sie eine Zitronnen in flasche?" I asked the girl.
Translated literally, I was asking politely, "Have you lemons in bottles?"
She looked at me funny, smiled, and led me to the correct aisle.
On hindsight, I could have asked for Zitronnensaft or lemon juice and not Zitronnen which is lemons.
I still felt damn proud.