Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks - Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for "Culture of English Speaking Countries Lessons" for Xiangtan Normal University...




American Food and Drink

MEALTIMES: Many meals in America are arranged around popular television shows, people like to eat in front of the TV, not always sitting at a table, they sit in a chair or on a sofa. Cooking in the USA is not just hamburgers, pizza and fast food. However the American fast food restaurant chains have been very successful at introducing American style fast food around the world, now people from many lands believe it is what we everyone eats all of the time in the USA.

Most traditional American foods were introduced by the early European immigrants but modified to take advantage of the locally available ingredients. Fried chicken, meatloaf, baked potato, corn, baked beans and apple pie would be considered traditional American dishes. 

Regional Cooking varies from state to state and is highly influenced by the types of ingredients locally available, as well as the cultural background of the people that settled in the area. New England cooking, native to the northeastern states; was heavily influenced by the cuisine of the original English settlers. Southern cooking has definite African influences. Cajun cooking, from the New Orleans area, is a spicy mixture of Spanish, French and African styles. California cooking is known for the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in interesting combinations with Asian, Mexican and Spanish flavorings.

BREAKFAST: A typical American breakfast menu includes scrambled or fried eggs or an egg omelet, juice, bacon or sausage, toast, biscuits, or bagels. An alternative American breakfast could be cereal with milk, juice, and toast or pancakes or waffles with syrup and butter, juice, and white milk. Drinks include orange juice, milk, tea or coffee. There are different types of breakfast as follows:

Continental Breakfast - Choice of orange, grapefruit, and cranberry juices, sliced fruits and seasonal berries. An assortment of bakery items such as  Croissants, bagels, muffins, and assorted Danishes. Served with jam, cream cheese and butter. Freshly brewed coffee, decaffeinated coffee and, iced & herbal teas

All-American Breakfast Buffet - Choice of orange, grapefruit, and cranberry juices, sliced fruits and seasonal berries. An assortment of bakery items such as  Croissants, bagels, muffins, and assorted Danishes. Served with jam, cream cheese and butter. Assorted bowls of cereals, granola, and raisins. Individual flavored yogurts. Farm fresh scrambled eggs. Country sausage. Three pepper bacon. Breakfast potatoes. Freshly brewed coffee, decaffeinated coffee and, iced & herbal teas. Thick sliced French toast with warm maple syrup.

LUNCH: The lunch menu normally involves sandwiches (peanut butter and/or jelly, cheese, bologna, turkey, ham), rolls, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, tacos, chicken, salad, fruit (orange, banana, apple, tangerine), milk, soft drink, tea or coffee.

The normal practice in America is to eat the salad before the main course. A wonderful American invention is the salad bar. In restaurants that have these salad bars the waiter does not bring your salad. You go to the salad bar and help yourself, usually to as much as you want. This is normally done after you have ordered your meal; you eat the salad while the main course is being cooked.

There are many different salads, such as: "Grilled Chicken Salad" - Mixed Greens tossed with warm grilled Chicken Breast, Carrots and Tortilla Strips in our Cider Vinaigrette. Topped with roasted Walnut Sauce. "Chicken Tender Salad" - Chicken Tenders atop mixed Greens, Avocado, Scallions, Tomato and shredded Cheddar, tossed in Peppercorn Ranch Dressing. Drizzled with Barbecue Sauce. "Steak Salad" - Grilled seasoned Beef on mixed young Greens with Avocado, Tomato and fresh Mozzarella tossed in Italian Vinaigrette. 

Sandwiches are also served in many different ways, if you eat out sandwiches may be as follows: Served with crispy seasoned French Fries or mixed young Greens or Baked Potato. Cheeseburger - Grilled with your choice of Cheese on a toasted Sesame Seed Bun. Cooked well done unless otherwise specified. Zone Burger - Add seared Mushrooms, Red Peppers, and Onions to our Cheeseburger. Cooked well done unless otherwise specified. Turkey Burger - Grilled all white Meat Patty with your choice of Cheese on a toasted Sesame Seed Bun. 

DINNER: Dinner is normally the largest meal of the day. It normally involves food such as pizza, meat (steak, chicken, fish, pork, turkey) with potatoes and a vegetable (corn, green beans, beans, carrots, spinach, peas, greens, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli), spaghetti with either tomato or meat sauce, lasagna, tacos, and dessert (cake, cookies, pies, ice cream, and candy). Dessert is served after the main meal - Triple Chocolate Cake, All-American Apple Pie, Rum Carrot Cake, Sudden Death Brownie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae, Berries and Sorbet. turkey (pictured) is a traditional food for Thanksgiving meals.

SNACKS: "Brunch" is a meal taken sometime in the late morning or mid-afternoon. Fast Food is readily available almost everywhere in the USA and is very inexpensive. Sandwiches are the most common and they come in many varieties such as: Hamburgers, roast beef and chicken. Pizza is sold everywhere. In addition, there are fast food restaurants serving fried chicken, Mexican Tacos, Greek Gyros, Chinese dishes, Japanese sushi, Bar-B-Que and many regional specialties. Many fast food restaurants offer free refills on all drinks, and some offer "Giant sized" portions for a small additional charge. You can get a fast food breakfast for about $3 and lunch for less than $5. 

Convenience Stores are open from early morning to late night, sometimes even open "24 hours a day". They usually sell groceries, snacks, pastries, cold drinks, coffee, hot dogs, and sandwiches made to your order. They are very inexpensive. You can usually get a light breakfast or lunch for just a few dollars. 

Supermarkets sell many things besides groceries. They sell hot soups by the cup or the pint. Spoons and napkins are free. Make your own salad from a choice of several dozen items and pay by the weight when you check out at the cashier. You can find some real bargain meals "ready to eat" in a large supermarket. In many cities, supermarkets are open "24 hours a day". 

Food Courts have become very popular in most shopping malls. They offer a variety of fast food restaurants clustered around a central seating area. You can find many kinds of foods, beverages and desserts with a comfortable place to relax and eat. Malls usually open about 10:00 am and close at 9:00 pm except on Sundays when they close at 5:00 pm in most parts of the USA. 

All you can Eat Buffets and Salad Bars are great places to go when you are really hungry. For one price, you can eat all you want from the buffet table. In some "all you can eat" restaurants the buffet table is over 50 feet (15 meters) long with all sorts of meats, fishes, salads, fruits, vegetables and desserts. Most "all you can eat" buffet restaurants charge about $7 to $10 at lunchtime and $10 to $15 for dinner. Many steak houses and other restaurants have "soup and salad" bars that include hot foods like chicken wings or tacos and desserts. If you order any meal, the "all you can eat" salad bar is included at no extra charge. For a real bargain, just order the salad bar with a beverage. A salad bar usually costs about $5 at lunch and about $8 at dinner. 

EXTRA INFORMATION: Smoking is now banned in all elevators, public buildings, hospitals, busses, trains and airplanes in the US. Restaurants have "smoking" and "non-smoking" tables. Many families do not smoke and prefer that guests do not smoke in their home. Before you light a cigarette, always ask your host or companion if smoking would bother them. 

The minimum drinking age for alcohol is 21 in nearly every state. Laws prohibit anyone under 21 years old from buying, owning or drinking any alcoholic beverage. Bars and nightclubs will not permit anyone younger to enter even if parents accompany them. Restaurants that serve alcohol will allow children to enter and eat but will not serve them any alcoholic beverage.

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