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0121 Cooking Dinner

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 121: Cooking Dinner.

Hello and welcome to episode 121 of English as a Second Language Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Today’s podcast is about me cooking dinner. Let’s get started!

[start of story]

I'm not a very good cook, but I decided to surprise my wife by making a three-course meal. I went to the supermarket to get the dessert, and I stopped by the farmer's market to get some fresh vegetables, my ingredients for the salad.

The meal would start with a salad. I washed the vegetables in the sink, chopped them up, and mixed them in a bowl with a light dressing. That was pretty easy.

The next course was going to be more difficult. The main dish would be salmon. I put the oil and the fish in the pan, but it was difficult to know when it was done, not underdone or overcooked.

The last part of the meal would be the dessert. I decided to buy a small chocolate cake. The meal turned out pretty well and my wife enjoyed it. After dinner, we went into the kitchen and saw all of the dirty dishes that needed washing. I realized that cooking isn't the hard part, it's the cleaning up!

[end of story]

Our story begins with me telling you that I am not a very good cook and that is true; that is not just part of the story. I am not a very good cook, but I decided to surprise my wife. “To surprise someone” is to do something they don’t expect. I decided to surprise my wife by making a three-course-meal. A “three-course-meal” – “course” (course) means that there are three different parts of the meal. The first part is what we call the “appetizer” or the salad. We have salad first in a meal, or soup. The second course would be what we would call the “main course” where you would have, for example, meat or sea food, fish, etc. – that would be the main course. And usually, you’ll have some vegetables and maybe some potatoes or rice or something else. And then the third course would be the dessert course where you would have cake or something sweet. So, that’s a “three-course-meal,” (meal) – of course, is what you eat – a meal. This is a dinner meal.

I decided to go to the “supermarket.” And a “supermarket” – all one word – (supermarket) is a big store where you buy lots of different types of food. Some people call it just a “grocery store.” A “grocery store” – “grocery” is (grocery) – that is the same thing as a supermarket. “Groceries” is another word for food. Well, I go to the supermarket to get the dessert, the third course, and I stopped by the farmer’s market to get some vegetables. “To stop by” – two words – “to stop by” (by) – means that you were going from one place to another and you decided to stop and do something along the way before you got there. So, if I’m going to the bank and I also need to go to the library, I may stop by the library first and then go to the bank – means I go there and then I go somewhere else.

Well, I stopped by the “farmer’s market.” “Farmer” (farmer’s) – a “farmer,” of course, is the person who grows food, and in the United States, at least in California, I know, there are lots of farmer’s markets and these are usually on one day of the week in a different part of the city. And people who sell food – who make, who grow their own food – come in and they sell their food directly to people. There is no market, there is just a farmer’s market. They’re just a group of people together who are selling food. We have – boy, three or four farmer’s markets on different days around where I live and usually the food is a little fresher, especially the vegetables. It’s mostly vegetables. Things like lettuce and carrots and grapes and those sorts of things you will find in a “farmer’s market.” Well, I went to the farmer’s market to get some vegetables and also, these vegetables were my “ingredients” for the salad. “Ingredients” (ingredients) – “ingredients” are the things that you put into food where the different parts of the food. So, the ingredients, for example, for macaroni and cheese – which is a favorite American food, especially for children – “macaroni” is a type of pasta. Macaroni and cheese are the two ingredients for “Macaroni and cheese.” So, an “ingredient” is anything that you put into the food.

Well, the meal would start, I decided, with a salad – that would be the first course. So, I washed the vegetables in the sink. The “sink” (sink) is where you can run water and the water goes down into a pipe (pipe) – that’s part of the sink. Well, in the sink I washed the vegetables and I “chopped them up.” “To chop up” (chop) (up) – two words – “to chop up” means to cut. So, I cut them up in small pieces – that’s usually chopping up – usually means doing it, cutting it in small pieces. I mixed them in a bowl with a light dressing. So, I put them together with a light dressing. A “dressing” is something that – a liquid that you put on salad. Usually, it has oil – sometimes oil, and vinegar, different ingredients go into dressing. It’s sometimes also called a “salad dressing” or a “dressing” here is the same thing.

The next meal was going to be the main dish – the main course. And “dish” (dish) has two meanings. At least, “dish” can be the physical plate that you put something on or the bowl you put something in. A “dish” also can mean the same as the course or a part of the meal. Well, the main dish was going to be fish and the fish was “Salmon,” which is spelled (salmon) – in English, salmon. I put oil and the fish into a pan (pan). The “pan” is the metal thing that you put over the fire – over the flame (flame) – that’s the fire under on the stove. And you heat up the pan and you put the oil and fish.

But I said it was difficult to know when it was done – not “underdone or overcooked.” When we say the food is “done” (done) we mean it’s cooked just right. It’s cooked correctly. When we say it’s “underdone” – all one word – “underdone” (underdone) – that means it isn’t cooked enough. You need to cook it more and “overcooked” – also one word – “overcooked” means you’ve cooked it too long. You’ve cooked it too much.

Well, the last part of the meal was going to be a dessert and I bought a small chocolate cake because, c’mon, I can’t do everything, right? So, the last part of the meal was a chocolate cake. And I say that the meal “turned out” pretty well. “To turn out” means to result – what happens at the end. You can use that expression and it’s two words – “turn” “out” (turn) (out) – you can use that expression to talk about anything, how anything ended or how anything resulted. For example, “How did that movie turn out?” means what happens at the end? Here, the meal turned out “pretty well,” meaning the result was pretty good. My wife enjoyed it. Of course, after dinner, we went into the kitchen and saw all the dirty dishes – all the plates, cups, the pans, the glasses – all of those were dirty and those are dirty dishes. Remember “dish” has those two meanings – here it means the actual plate and spoons and forks etc.

I say at the end that I realized that cooking isn’t the hard part. It’s the cleaning up. And “to clean (clean) up” is to – really it’s the same as to clean. But again, in English, we often add the second word or making something – giving something emphasis. So, the “cleaning up” here would be the cleaning of the dishes.

Now let’s listen to the story this time at a native rate of speech.

[start of story]

I'm not a very good cook, but I decided to surprise my wife by making a three-course meal. I went to the supermarket to get the dessert, and I stopped by the farmer's market to get some fresh vegetables, my ingredients for the salad.

The meal would start with a salad. I washed the vegetables in the sink, chopped them up, and mixed them in a bowl with a light dressing. That was pretty easy.

The next course was going to be more difficult. The main dish would be salmon. I put the oil and the fish in the pan, but it was difficult to know when it was done, not underdone or overcooked.

The last part of the meal would be the dessert. I decided to buy a small chocolate cake. The meal turned out pretty well and my wife enjoyed it. After dinner, we went into the kitchen and saw all of the dirty dishes that needed washing. I realized that cooking isn't the hard part, it's the cleaning up!

[end of story]

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time on ESL Podcast.

ESL Podcast is a production of the Center for Educational Development in Los Angeles, California. This podcast is copyright 2005. No part of this podcast may be sold or redistributed without the expressed written permission of the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
three-course – a meal, like lunch or dinner, with three parts that are eaten one after the other

* The three-course meal included a vegetable soup, a main course of beef, and a fruit dessert.

supermarket – a store that sells food; a large store that sells many different types of food and other products used in the home

* Mitchell bought eggs, ham, coffee, and paper plates from the supermarket.

to stop by – to visit a place for a short amount of time; to visit a place when on one’s way to visit other places or to return home

* Delia stopped by the bookstore on her way to work because she wanted to buy a new book.

farmer's market – an outdoor place and sells fruits and vegetables grown by small farmers (people who earn money by growing fruits and vegetables) not companies

* The farmer’s market had a large variety of tomatoes and corn for sale.


ingredients – the food and products one uses to make a dish, a more complicated type of food, made from multiple foods and products, that one eats during a meal

* The ingredients needed to bake the bread included flour, eggs, sugar, and yeast.

sink – a small tub or container where water comes in and drains out, used to wash foods, hands, and other items

* Felipe went to the sink to wash his hands before he dinner.

to chop up – to cut into small pieces using a knife or sharp tool

* Louise chopped up the onion into tiny pieces.

light dressing – a small amount of a liquid or sauce one uses to add flavor or taste to food, like a salad

* The salad had a light dressing on it, but the taste of the dressing was still strong.

main dish – the main food served as part of a meal

* After eating the salad, Eddie ate a main dish of included chicken and rice.

pan – a metal container with short sides and a handle that one uses to cook food over a flame or source of heat

* Chloe cooked the eggs in a pan on the stovetop.

done – finished; when food has finished cooking and is safe and good to eat

* The vegetables were done once they became soft.

underdone – not cooked for long enough time; for food to be cooked for a shorter amount of time than it should have been cooked

* The hamburger was underdone because it was still red and bloody in the middle.

overcooked – cooked for more time than something should have been cooked; for food to be cooked for a greater amount of time than it should have been cooked, causing the food to taste bad

* The pork chop was overcooked and burnt, and it had a tough, dry texture that was difficult to chew.

to turn out – to result in; to end or finish a certain way

* Teodoro’s trip to the park turned out not to be very fun because it rained.

cleaning up – the washing of something after making it dirty; the washing of tools and surfaces one used to cook or eat with

* Cooking the big dinner was a lot of work, but the cleaning up that Myra needed to do after dinner was even more work.

Culture Note
How to Politely Refuse More Food

You are a guest at dinner with friends or “colleagues” (people you work with), and you are offered more food. You’re “full” (not hungry). How do you “refuse” (say ‘no’) politely?

If your “host” (the person who organized the event) cooked the meal, it is considered polite to “compliment” or say something nice about the food before refusing more. There are many ways to give a compliment about food. Here are a few:

- “That was delicious.”

- “That’s the best meal I’ve had in a long time.”

- “Your cooking is such a ‘treat’ (something that gives people a lot of pleasure, but that isn’t experienced often).”

- “You’ve outdone yourself.” (This means, “You have cooked a meal that is even better than the delicious meals you normally make.” “To outdo (oneself)” means to do or perform better than you have ever done before. You can use this compliment for many other situations.)

To refuse more food, you can use one of these phrases:

- “No, thank you. I couldn’t eat another bite.”

- “Thank you, but no more for me.”

- “That was very good, but I’m full.”

- “I’m ‘stuffed’ (very full) and I can’t eat anymore.”

- “No, thank you. I don’t have ‘room’ (space) for more.”