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0151 Eating at a Buffet

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 151: Eating at a Buffet.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast number 151. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development, and as usual , in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

On this podcast, we are going to eat and eat a lot. Let’s get started!

[start of story]

I love eating at all-you-can-eat buffets. It doesn't matter what kind of food it is, I'm up for it.

Last week, I went to a high-end seafood buffet with my friends. We walked in and the hostess seated us at a table. She asked if we wanted to order any drinks. Drinks other than water are not included in the price.

I got up and got a plate. I went over to the soup and salad station first and then over to the hot food. They had a carving station and made-to-order omelets. They also had a great dessert table, but I wasn't ready for that yet. I sat down, ate, and grabbed a new plate for the second round. This time, I went for the seafood. I loaded up my plate and sat down again. After two more trips to the buffet, I was ready for dessert. I got a little of everything. I was so stuffed, I couldn't eat another bite.

I really enjoyed the meal. I like being able to serve myself. Some people don't like buffets unless they're very high-end. Not me. Give me any high-end or low-end buffet and I'm perfectly happy.

[end of story]

In this podcast, we get to eat. It’s called “Eating at a Buffet.” And a “buffet” is spelled (buffet). A “buffet” is a restaurant or a place in a restaurant where they have food and you go and get whatever food you want and put it on your plate. And usually, these are “all-you-can-eat.” “All-you-can-eat” means you can take as much food as you want. You can’t take it home. You have to eat it there. But “all-you-can-eat buffets” are very popular in the United States – that’s probably why there are so many fat Americans. The most popular buffets are “Indian” buffets – Indian food and “Chinese” buffets with Chinese food, though there are also a few Japanese buffets and other types of general buffets with different types of food.

Well, in the story, I say that “It doesn’t matter what kind of food it is” – it’s not important – “I’m up for it.” “To be up (up) for (for) something” means that you are ready for it, that you are willing to do it. “I’m up for going hiking.” “I’m up for walking in the park.” I say that “Last week, I went to a high-end seafood buffet.” When we say something his “high” (high) – “end” (end)” – we mean that is expensive or that it is considered to be among the top most expensive type of, in this case, buffet. You can also talk about high-end stores – stores that sell very expensive things – things that cost lots of money. So, a “high-end seafood buffet,” of course, would be one that had seafood – types of fish. Well, you walk into a buffet and the hostess “seats you.” The “hostess” is, of course, the person who is at the front of the restaurant near the door that takes you to your seat. And there’s actually a verb which is “to seat someone” (seat) – means to show them to their table – usually, at a restaurant. It also can be used in a theater, for example, where the person who takes you to your seat is called an “usher” (usher). In a restaurant, that person is called the “hostess” if it’s a woman and a “host” (host) if it’s a man.

The “hostess” asks if the people in the story wanted any drinks. And at a buffet, typically, you get the food free, but if you want soda or something else to drink other than – except, that is – water – you have to pay extra for it – pay separately. That’s why the story says, “Drinks are not included in the price.” They’re not part of the price. So, if you go to a Chinese buffet that cost $10 a person – which is about a typical price for a buffet - $8, $10. Here in Los Angeles, a high-end buffet, a more expensive buffet, might be $15 or $20. If you go to a buffet like that you probably will have to pay $1.50 or maybe $2 to get a Coca-Cola or some other type of soda.

Well, in the story, it says that “I got up and got a plate and I went over to the soup and salad station.” A “station” (station), when we are talking about a buffet, is a part of the buffet. It’s like the area of that particular type of food. And this was soup and salad. “Then I went to the hot food. They had a carving station there.” A “carving station” (carving) is a place where they have a big piece of meat – usually beef or maybe ham or pork. And they have someone cutting it for you and giving you the pieces that you want. Another word for cutting a piece of meat is “to carve a piece of meat.” So, on Thanksgiving, for example, we carve a turkey – that is, we cut the meat off of the turkey.

There was also a station for “made to order omelets.” An “omelet” (omelet) is, you probably know, eggs, usually with a little milk or something, and they mix together and you put them in a frying pan to cook them. Usually, you put other things in there like ham or cheese or tomatoes – that’s my favorite kind of omelet. Well, at a buffet, they have “made to order omelets.” So, they have someone standing with a frying pan and you go up to them and say, “I want a ham, cheese, tomato omelet.” And they will make it for you right there and give it to you.

They also had a great dessert table and a “dessert” (dessert), of course, the sweet things, sugary things, that you eat after a meal. I say that “I sat down and I ate and then I grabbed a new plate for the second round.” “To grab” (grab) means to take, in this case. So, I took another plate. I picked up another plate and I went for a second round. A “round” here means (round) – means a second time that I eat – a second serving. Normally, we talk about rounds in, for example, a boxing match. A boxing – where two people are boxing each other – they usually have several rounds – 15 rounds I think. And each round is very short – 2 or 3 minutes. Well, we use that same expression here, sort of as a joke. I went for my second round. Notice that you have to take a new plate. When you eat at a public restaurant – at a buffet – once you sit down and start to eat from your plate, you can’t use that same plate again. So, if you go to a buffet in the United States and you get your food and you sit down and eat it, and you want more food, you leave your plate on the table and you go get another plate – a new plate – and you do that each time you go and get food.

Well, I say that I loaded up my plate. “To load up” (load) up (up) means to put a lot of things on there. We can use that verb “to load up,” for example, if we are moving. And we need to put some boxes in a truck or in a car. We can “load up” the car – means we fill it up – we put lots of things in it. Well, here, “loading up your plate” means to put a lot of food on your plate. I then say that after two more trips to the buffet, I was ready for dessert. And a “trip” here just means the same as a round – two more times going to get food. I said, “I got a little of everything” – means a small amount of many different things. “I was so stuffed, I couldn’t eat another bite.” “To be stuffed” (stuffed) means that you’ve eaten so much that you are not just full, but you are very full. Someone says, perhaps, “I stuffed myself at the buffet” – means I ate a lot – too much. I say that “I couldn’t eat another bite” – means I could not eat another piece of food. A “bite” (bite) of food is a piece of food. We also use that word “bite” as a verb” and that’s what your teeth do when they chew on something –when you put a piece of food in your mouth, you can bite it, meaning that your teeth come together.

I said I enjoyed my meal and that “To me, I could go to any high-end or low-end buffet.” And “low-end” (low-end), is of course, the opposite of high-end. A “low-end” buffet would be a cheap or inexpensive buffet.

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

[start of story]

I love eating at all-you-can-eat buffets. It doesn't matter what kind of food it is, I'm up for it.

Last week, I went to a high-end seafood buffet with my friends. We walked in and the hostess seated us at a table. She asked if we wanted to order any drinks. Drinks other than water are not included in the price.

I got up and got a plate. I went over to the soup and salad station first and then over to the hot food. They had a carving station and made-to-order omelets. They also had a great dessert table, but I wasn't ready for that yet. I sat down, ate, and grabbed a new plate for the second round. This time, I went for the seafood. I loaded up my plate and sat down again. After two more trips to the buffet, I was ready for dessert. I got a little of everything. I was so stuffed, I couldn't eat another bite.

I really enjoyed the meal. I like being able to serve myself. Some people don't like buffets unless they're very high-end. Not me. Give me any high-end or low-end buffet and I'm perfectly happy.

[end of story]

The script for today’s podcast was written by Dr. Lucy Tse and we thank Lucy for her work. Remember you can always see the script of the story or dialog each day by going to our website at eslpod.com.

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

English as a Second Language podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. This podcast is copyright 2006.

Glossary
all-you-can-eat buffet – a restaurant that places its food so that customers can serve themselves, and allows customers to eat as much food as they want for one price instead of charging a separate price for each dish

* Harry saves money when he visits the all-you-can-eat buffet because he eats a lot and likes to eat many different foods.


to be up for it – to be willing to try something; to be interested in being part of an experience

* Katrina has never visited the mountains, but she said she would be up for it the next time her friends go.


high-end – expensive; among the best

* Siyoung received a lot of money for her birthday, so she visited a high-end clothing store instead of going to a cheaper shop.


hostess – a woman who greets customers as they enter a restaurant and guides those customers to the table they will eat their meal at

* The hostess led Dave and Julie to a table in the back of the restaurant.


included in the price – included among the goods or services received that one has paid for; paid for as part of a fee

* A ride on the ferris wheel is included in the price of admission to the amusement park, so visitors do not need to bring extra money.


station – a table, counter, or other similar area that holds a specific type of food at a buffet

* The first station at the buffet held a selection of salads and cut fruits.


carving station – a station where a cook slices different kinds of meats for customers at a buffet

* The cook at the carving station served chicken, roast beef, and ham.


made-to-order omelet – an egg dish that can include many different ingredients, like cheese and vegetables, and includes only the ingredients a customer wants

* Kim loves eggs and always asks for a made-to-order omelet with ham and tomatoes when she eats at a restaurant.


to grab – to pick up; to take an object using one’s hands

* Felix grabbed his favorite book off the bookshelf before anyone else could take it.

round – one of a series; an action performed multiple times

* Alex finished the first round of cleaning, but he still needed to complete a round of dusting and sweeping.


to load up – to fill; to fit as much as possible onto a surface or inside a container

* Maria was ill and had a runny nose, so she loaded up her pockets with as many tissues as possible.


trip – a journey with an end point ; the act of traveling from one spot to another

* Arturo left home in the morning and made the long trip to work.


stuffed – filled with food; having eaten so much that one’s stomach feels full

* Maki felt stuffed because she ate too much at lunch.


couldn't eat another bite – to be unable to eat more food after eating a large amount

* Charlie ate too many snacks during the afternoon and couldn’t eat another bite by dinnertime.


low-end – inexpensive; cheap

* Roberto and Madeline did not have much money, so they visited a low-end restaurant instead of going some place nicer.

Culture Note
The Quality of Food at All-You-Can-Eat Buffets

Buffets are very popular in the United States, and can “consist of” (be made up of; contain) a variety of foods or just one type of food. One of the reasons buffets are popular is that the food is all-you-can-eat. The problem with some buffets is that the quality of the food is often not very good. Does this matter to American eaters?

One 2011 “study” (piece of research) tried to answer that question by comparing two groups of people. The first group paid “full price” (the regular price) for a pizza buffet, which was $6.00, for all the pizza they could eat. The second group paid only half of that, $3.00, for the same all-you-can-eat meal.

Which group ate more? Which group liked their food more?

“On average” (typically), the group that paid more ate more, about 25% more. But that same group of people also said that the pizza tasted worse than the group that paid less! In other words, even though they thought the pizza tasted worse, they ate more of it.

One possibility suggested by the researchers is that the full price group thought that each “slice” (piece) of pizza was worth less due to the poor taste, and that therefore, they had to eat more of it to get their “money’s worth” (the full value or benefit for the price one pays).