English will have become an important tool for communication and discovery rather than just another class to attend. And we would like to look at the all-important topic, Food.
Food Celebrates Life.
Have you ever noticed how much of our life is centered on food? Look at all the meetings held, decisions made, and mergers consummated over a meal: power breakfast, power lunch, dinners, banquets, receptions, and those endless toasts. Consider all the celebrations where food is all-important: weddings, birthdays, religious feast days, national holidays, etc. Food is the great icebreaker when people meet for pleasure or business. Food is at the center of many of our important activities.
Food Nourishes Language.
Because of this importance, much of our language (regardless of the language) contains references to food. These references conjure up images worth a thousand words each. The idiom page contains several references to food and shows how these are used in a non-food-related discussion. Think about the idioms and expressions in your native language related to food and how and when you use them. Do you use food expressions to describe someone’s physical characteristics (e.g., He’s as skinny as a string bean; his belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly.); or, to describe someone’s personality (e.g., Harry is a cre3am puff; she’s as sweet as sugar.) or, to describe a situation or activity (e.g., Something is fishy here; That crossword puzzle is a piece of cake.). How we use food expressions depends on how we perceive the food, or the culture associated with the food.
Food For Different Cultures.
Have you ever stopped to really think about what you and your family eat
everyday and why? Have you ever stopped to think what other people eat? In the movie Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom, there are two scenes in which the two characters are offered meals from a different culture. One meal, meant to break the ice, consisted of insects. The second meal was a lavish banquet that featured such delicacies as roasted beetles, live snakes, eyeball soup, and chilled monkey brains for dessert. Some cultures eat such things as vipers and rattlesnakes, bush rats, dog meat, horsemeat, bats, animal heart, liver, eyes, and insects of all sorts.
Often the differences among cultures in the foods they eat are related to the differences in geography and local resources. People who live near water ( the sea, lakes, and rivers) tend to eat more fish and crustaceans. People who live in colder climates tend to eat heavier, fatty foods. However, with the development of a global economy, food boundaries and differences are beginning to dissipate: McDonalds is now on every continent expect Antarctica, and tofu and yogurt are served all over the world.
Mexico: Beans and rice
Corn tortillas (2 servings)
Black beans (2 servings)
Rice (2 servings)
Couscous (wheat pasta)
India: Sag paneer4
Indian cheese (2 servings)
Rice (2 servings)
Chapati (wheat bread)
Spaghetti (2 servings)
Tomato sauce (2 servings)
Chicken breasts, baked
Rice (2 servings)
USA: Barbecue chicken and potato salad5
Chicken breast, barbecue
Corn (1 ear)
What do people eat?
Many factors determine the foods that people eat. Geography and climate, tradition and history: They all go into our meals. In European country of Spain and the Asian country of Nepal, different cultures and customs affect what people eat.
From Land and Sea.
Spain occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula, on the western edge of Europe. It is nearly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Spain’s dry climate and poor soil make farming difficult. Extensive irrigation allows farmers to raise strawberries and rice in dry areas. Vegetables and citrus trees grow on the coastal plains, and olives and grapes grow in the river valleys.
The grasslands of the large dry central plateau are used for grazing sheep, goats, and cattle. People in this region eat roasted and boiled meats. They also raise pigs for ham and spicy sausage called chorizo. And people all over the country eat lots of seafood from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
One classic Spanish dish, paella, includes sausage, mussels, lobster, or chicken, plus red pepper, peas, tomatoes, and saffron rice. Peasants were the first to make paella, using whatever food was available. But this dish and others also reflect Spain’s history of traders, conquerors, and explorers who brought a variety of food by land and by sea.
Phoenicians from the Middle East introduced grapes to Spain in about 1100B.C. Hundreds of years later, Romans brought olives from what is now Italy. In the 8th century A.D., Moors (Muslim Arabs and Berbers from Africa) introduced shortgrain rice and za faran, or saffron – the spice that colors rice yellow. And in the 1400s, 1500s, and 1600s, Spanish explorers and traders returned home with nutmeg and cloves from the East Indies: and peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and chocolate from the Americas.
From High in the Mountains.
Nepal is a landlocked country in the Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world. Nepal has three distinct geographical zones – lowlands; hills, mountains, and valleys; and the Great Himalayan Range – with subtropical to alpine-arctic temperatures and wide variations in vegetation and animal life.
Most people in Nepal are farmers. They grow fruits, fruits, and other crops in the lowlands, where temperatures are the warmest. Rice and corn grow in terraced, or stairlike, fields in the cooler hill regions. And potatoes and barley are the staple, or chief, crops at higher elevations, where temperatures are the coolest.
The Nepal raise goats, cattle, and yaks for dairy products. Meat is eaten mostly on special occasions. Religious rules affect which meats people in Nepal eat: Hindus, who make up almost 90 percent of the population, do not eat beef, and Muslims do not eat pork. The Buddhist religion prohibits the killing of any animals but allows the eating of meat, so Buddhists hire butchers to slaughter animals for food.
A typical family meal in Nepal might include daal bhat (rice with lentil gravy) or chapati (a flatbread), steamed vegetables, and achaar (a paste of spiced pickled fruits). About 90 percent of the Nepalese people live in rural areas. They often lack electricity for refrigerators or for cooking, so they rely on dried foods such as grains, lentils, and beans.
People carry traditions and foods with them when they move from one place to another. You might recognize examples when you look at your classmates’ special family foods or at specialty restaurants in your community.
Meals in Great Britain.
The two features of life in England that possibly give visitors their worst impressions are the English weather and English cooking.
A traditional English breakfast is a very big meal – sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms. People who do have a full breakfast say that it is
quite good. The writer Somerset Maugham once gave the following advice: “If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts daily.” But nowadays it is often a rather hurried and informal meal. Many people just have cereal with milk and sugar, or toast with marmalade, jam, or honey. Marmalade and jam are not the same! Marmalade is made from oranges and jam is made from other fruits. The traditional breakfast drink is tea, which people have with cold milk. Some people have coffee, often instant coffee, which is made with just hot water. Many visitors to Britain find this coffee disgusting!
For many people lunch is a quite meal. In cities there are lot of sandwich bars, where office workers can choose the kind of bread they want – brown, white, or a roll – and then all sorts of salad and meat or fish to go in the sandwich. Pubs often serve good, cheap food both hot and cold. School-children can have a hot meal at school, but many just take a snack from home – a sandwich, a drink, some fruit and perhaps some crisps. British kids eat more sweets than any other nationality.
“Tea” means two things. It is a drink and a meal! Some people have afternoon tea, with sandwiches, cakes, and, of course, a cup of tea. Cream teas are popular. You have scones (a kind of cake) with cream and jam.
The evening meal is the main meal of the day for many people. They usually have it quite early, between 6.00 and 8.00, and often the whole family eats together.
On Sundays many families have a traditional lunch. They have roast meat, either beef, lamb, chicken, or pork, with potatoes, vegetables, and gravy. Gravy is a sauce made from the meat juice.
The British like food from other countries, too, especially Italian, French, Chinese, and Indian. The British have in fact always imported food from abroad. From the time of the Roman invasion foreign trade was a major influence on British cooking. Another important influence on British cooking was of course
the weather. The good old British rain gives us rich soil and green grass, and means that we are able to produce some of the finest varieties of meat, fruit and vegetables, which don’t need fancy sauces or complicated recipes to disguise their taste. People often get take-away meals – you buy the food at the restaurant and than bring it home to eat. Eating in Britain is quite international!
Some people criticize English food. They say it’s unimaginable, boring, tasteless, it’s chips with everything and totally overcooked vegetables.
The basic ingredients, when fresh, are so full of flavour that British haven’t had to invent sauces to disguise their natural taste. What can compare with fresh pees or new potatoes just boiled and served with butter? Why drown spring lamb in wine or cream and spices, when with just one or two herbs it is absolutely delicious?
If you ask foreigners to name some typically English dishes, they will probably say “Fish and chips” then stop. It is disappointing, but true that, there is no tradition in England of eating in restaurants, because the food doesn’t lend itself to such preparations. English cooking is found at home so it is difficult to find a good English restaurant with a reasonable prices.