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0829 Having a Barbecue

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 829: Having a Barbecue.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 829. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in Los Angeles, California. Why am I speaking so strangely? I don’t know. I’m sorry – didn’t have enough coffee this morning.

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there, become a member, download a Learning Guide, read our blog, buy our course – all of that can be done on our website.

This episode is a dialog between George and Sophia. They’re going to be cooking. They’re going to be having a barbecue. Let’s get started!

[start of dialog]

George: Step aside! The king of the cookout is here. I’m ready to work my magic on this barbecue.

Sophia: Here are the burgers and hot dogs. The kids are pretty hungry.

George: Hold on. I need to put on the charcoal. Now I’m ready to fire up this barbecue. Where’s the lighter fluid?

Sophia: It’s right here.

George: Good. Oh, I almost forgot. I’ll need to gather some wood to burn to give the meat that smoky flavor.

Sophia: Why don’t I do that while you get things going?

George: No, I need to do things my way. I also need to make my world-famous barbecue sauce. The meat won’t taste very good if I don’t baste it with my special sauce each time I flip it.

Sophia: Okay, how about if I get the corn on the cob ready for grilling?

George: I’ll do that. I have my own special way of preparing the corn.

Sophia: Is there anything I can do to hurry things along?

George: Perfection takes time. Would you tell Michelangelo to hurry up?

[end of dialog]

Our dialog begins with George saying, “Step aside!” That expression, “Step aside (aside),” is used when you are telling someone to move out of your way, to move so that you can walk through a certain area or you can be in a certain area. George is saying, “Move over! The king of the cookout is here.” “The king of” is used when a man thinks he’s the best person in some area. He’s the expert. “I’m the king of poker players.” “I’m the king of podcasters.” “I’m the king of the world” – well, that was in Titanic. Remember the movie, Titanic? Yeah. Anyway, that’s what we mean. “I’m the king of.” I’m the most powerful person or the most knowledgeable or expert person in this area. A woman would say, “I’m the queen of something.”

George is the king of “cookouts.” A “cookout” (cookout) is an event where food is cooked, usually outside – outside of a house or a building. And it’s cooked over an open fire. We would say it’s “grilled,” so that you have these little bars of metal and the fire underneath and you put the food on top of the bars of metal – the “grill” – that’s a “cookout.” George says, “I’m ready to work my magic on this barbecue.” The expression “to work your magic” means I’m going to do something very well. I’m going to do something better than anyone else can do.

A “barbecue” is a large device that is used to cook outside. It has a grill on it. You can either use gas, which is very popular nowadays, but the traditional way is to use small pieces of charcoal that you light on fire and then the charcoal gets hot and that cooks the food, that provides the heat. So, a barbecue can refer to that device, that thing that you use to cook with. Sometimes, it’s just used to describe a cookout, a party. “We’re going to have a barbecue,” meaning we’re going to have a meal where we cook outside on a barbecue. This is often abbreviated – “barbecue” (barbecue) – with three letters capitalized – “BBQ.”

Sophia says, “Here are the burgers and hotdogs. The kids are pretty hungry.” “Burgers” refers to hamburgers, “hotdogs” are hotdogs, and those are popular things to cook at a barbecue, in addition to ribs and chicken. “The kids are pretty hungry,” Sophia says, meaning the kids are very hungry. George says, “Hold on,” meaning wait, “I need to put on the charcoal. Now, I’m ready to fire up this barbecue. Where’s the lighter fluid?” Remember I said there is sort of a traditional way of doing barbecues where you use little pieces of charcoal, basically. What you do is you put the charcoal (charcoal) inside the barbecue, then you put on lighter fluid. “Lighter fluid” is a liquid that you pour over the charcoal that causes it to burn when you put fire on there. “To fire up” would mean to light something, to start a fire burning. And so, what you’re doing is you are lighting up the pieces of charcoal so they’ll get hot and once they get hot, then you can food on top of the grill and cook it.

George is firing up the barbecue. He’s asking for the lighter fluid and Sophia says, “It’s right here.” George says, “Good. Oh, I almost forgot. I’ll need to gather some wood” – I’ll need to get some wood – “to burn to give the meat that smoky flavor.” “Smoky” (smoky) means a lot of smoke – the gray colored air that comes from burning something with a fire, basically. And that’s popular in barbecues, to want to have, for some things, a smoky flavor. There’re different ways of getting that. Burning wood is one of them. I think you can actually buy charcoal that’s somehow flavored and when you use it, it produces that smoky effect or result.

Sophia says, “Why don’t I do that while you get things going?” Sophia’s saying, “I’ll go get the wood. You start the barbecue.” George says, “No. I need to do things my way,” meaning I need to do things the way I want to do them. “I also need to make my world famous barbecue sauce.” “World famous” means everyone in the world knows about it. A “barbecue sauce” (sauce) – is a thick liquid you put on top of the meat that you’re cooking that gives it a very certain barbecue taste. I’m not sure how to describe. It’s usually made with something a little sweet.

George says, “The meat won’t taste very good if I don’t baste it with my special sauce each time I flip it.” “To baste” (baste) means to use a small tool. It looks often like a brush – to put the sauce, this heavy or thick liquid, over the food so that it doesn’t become too dry. George needs to “baste” the meat with his special sauce each time he “flips it.” “To flip” (flip) here means to turn something over. So, if you’re cooking a hamburger, you cook one side, and then you flip it over, you turn it over and cook the other side. Sometimes, jokingly, we talk about people who work in hamburger restaurants like McDonald’s as “flipping burgers.” The term is used to describe a job that doesn’t pay very well and is probably not the most interesting.

Sophia says, “Okay, how about if I get the corn on the cob ready for grilling?” “Corn on the cob” is corn, the vegetable, that comes still attached to the hard inedible – what you don’t eat – part of the plant. If you know what corn looks like, when you take it off the plant. Well, you take the outside of the corn off – what we call the “husk” (husk) – and you’re left with the “corn on the cob (cob).” The “cob” is the middle part of the plant, the hard part that you don’t eat. “Grilling,” you already know, means to cook something on top of this metal device.

So “grill” can be a noun but here it’s used as a verb. It means basically the same as barbecuing, in this instance. George says, “I’ll do that. I have my own special way of preparing corn.” Sophia says, “Is there anything I can do to hurry things along?” Remember the children are hungry and George is taking a long time. So Sophia says she wants to “hurry things along” – that means to speed things up, to make things happen more quickly. George says, “Perfection takes time.” “Perfection” is when you can’t do anything any better than it is. It’s without any mistakes.

George says, “Would you tell Michelangelo to hurry up?” Michelangelo, you probably know, is the – or was – the influential Italian Renaissance artist who painted the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Rome. He created the statue of David in Florence, Italy, and so forth. Michelangelo here is used to mean an artist, a great artist, and George thinks of himself as a great artist. We also, if we’re trying to describe someone who’s brilliant, someone who’s intellectually a genius, we would say, “He’s an Einstein.” Well, George is saying he’s a Michelangelo – he’s a great artist as a cook.

Now let’s listen to the dialog this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialog]

George: Step aside! The king of the cookout is here. I’m ready to work my magic on this barbecue.

Sophia: Here are the burgers and hot dogs. The kids are pretty hungry.

George: Hold on. I need to put on the charcoal. Now I’m ready to fire up this barbecue. Where’s the lighter fluid?

Sophia: It’s right here.

George: Good. Oh, I almost forgot. I’ll need to gather some wood to burn to give the meat that smoky flavor.

Sophia: Why don’t I do that while you get things going?

George: No, I need to do things my way. I also need to make my world-famous barbecue sauce. The meat won’t taste very good if I don’t baste it with my special sauce each time I flip it.

Sophia: Okay, how about if I get the corn on the cob ready for grilling?

George: I’ll do that. I have my own special way of preparing the corn.

Sophia: Is there anything I can do to hurry things along?

George: Perfection takes time. Would you tell Michelangelo to hurry up?

[end of dialog]

She’s the queen of ESL scriptwriters, a Michelangelo in what she does. I’m speaking, of course, of our own Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to step aside – to move out of the way so that someone else can do something

* Step aside and I’ll fix your TV.

the king/queen of – a man/woman who is very good at doing something, better than anyone else, often used humorously

* Grant is the king of gardening. He gives fresh fruits and vegetables to his friends and neighbors all summer long.

cookout – an event where food is grilled over fire and eaten outside, especially as a party or celebration

* Do you want to come to a cookout at our house this Saturday?

to work (one’s) magic – to do something very well, better than anyone else can do it

* You’re always so organized. Can you work your magic on my garage?

barbecue – a large device that uses charcoal or natural gas to create a source of heat for cooking foods outdoors

* Don’t let the kids play near the barbecue – it’s hot!

charcoal – black, round or square objects made from burnt wood, used in grills to produce heat for cooking foods outside

* Fish tastes better if you cook it over cedar wood instead of charcoal.

to fire up – to light something; to start a fire burning; to turn something on

* Sometimes it’s very difficult to fire up the lawn mower.

lighter fluid – a liquid that is poured over wood or charcoal so that it burns more quickly and easily

* The wood is a little bit wet from the rain, but I think it will burn if we use some lighter fluid.

smoky – with a lot of smoke (the grey-colored air that comes from a fire)

* This restaurant is so smoky that I can hardly taste the food!

barbecue sauce – a thick liquid put on meat before and during cooking to give it extra flavor, usually sweet and/or spicy

* After eating the chicken wings, Lacie licked the barbecue sauce off her fingers.

to baste – to use a small tool to spread a sauce or liquid over food while it is cooking to give it more flavor and not let it become too dry

* Nancy forgot to baste the turkey, so it was really dry and tasteless.

to flip – to turn something over, especially with a spatula (cooking tool with a flat end) when talking about food

* Quick! Flip over those pancakes before they burn.

corn on the cob – corn kernels (small pieces) that are still attached to the hard, inedible (cannot be eaten) part of the plant, held by putting one hand on each end so that one can bite off the kernels

* Do you want to put butter and salt on your corn on the cob?

to grill – to cook something by putting it on a rack with evenly spaced metal bars held above a source of heat

* Doctors recommend grilling or steaming fish instead of frying it.

to hurry things along – to speed something up; to make something happen sooner or more quickly

* We need to hurry things along or we’ll never meet the deadline.

perfection – a state that could not be better; a condition that has no flaws, errors, or problems

* This birthday cake was decorated to perfection! Who made it?

Michelangelo – an influential Italian Renaissance artist who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and created the Statue of David, among other great works

* It took Michelangelo about four years to finish painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why does George want wood?
a) Because it will support the barbecue.
b) Because it will be used to hold the meat in position.
c) Because it will make the meat taste better.

2. How is Sophia going to cook the corn on the cob?
a) She will boil it in a pot of hot water.
b) She will fry it in hot oil.
c) She will cook it over the flame.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to flip

The verb “to flip” in this podcast to turn something over, especially with a spatula when talking about food: “I forgot to flip the pancake and it burned on one side.” When talking about electronic devices, “to flip” means to turn the machine on of off: “Can you flip the coffee maker on if you’re the first to get up in the morning?” “To flip” or “to flip out” are informal ways to say that someone becomes very angry very suddenly: “Our manager flipped when he found out that Demetri left work early without asking him.” Or, “Do you think Mom will flip out when she finds out about the damage to the car?”

to grill

In this podcast, the verb “to grill” means to cook something by putting it on a rack with evenly spaced metal bars held above a source of heat: “Have you ever grilled fresh pineapple? It’s delicious!” The verb “to grill” can also mean to ask someone many questions in a short period of time, especially in an aggressive way: “We were shocked to hear Santiago grilling his wife about where she had been and whom she had been with.” A “grill” is sometimes an informal restaurant or another place where one can buy grilled food: “Have you been to the Town Grill on Center Street?” Finally, when talking about a car, a “grill” is the metal bars at the front of a car, between the headlights: “How did you get that dent on your car’s grill?”




CULTURE NOTE

Holidays for Barbecuing

As soon as the weather gets warmer, Americans like to “head” (go) outside to start barbecuing, filling the air with the “scent” (smell) of grilled meat and barbecue sauces. Some people say they barbecue so that they don’t heat up the house by using a stove or oven, but other people say there is something “primal” (related to ancient humans, or how people used to live) about cooking over a “flame” (fire) and eating outdoors.

Barbecues are an important part of most “Fourth of July” (Independence Day) celebrations. Friends and family members get together in backyards and parks to grill hot dogs and hamburgers before watching the “fireworks” (colorful light displays in the nighttime sky). Many people also organize barbecues for Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) and Labor Day (the first Monday in September).

Most summer “festivals” and “fairs” have many “vendors” (salespeople) selling barbecued foods like pork “ribs” (bones from the front of a person’s or animal’s torso (between the neck and stomach), with meat on them), chicken wings, and corn on the cob. Some festivals and fairs are all about barbecuing, with “tasting contests” to see which competitor can make the most delicious foods or the spiciest barbecue sauce.

Barbecue sauces “vary” (are different) by region. Grocery stores usually sell a thick, sweet, and smoky sauce that is a little bit similar to “ketchup” (a tomato-based sauce). But in South Carolina, barbecue sauce “tends to be” (is usually) yellow and has a lot of mustard in it. In Texas, barbecue sauce is brown and has “chunks” (big pieces) of meat “drippings” (drops of thick liquid and fat that come off of meat as it is cooking) and vegetables. In North Carolina, barbecue sauce is “clear” (without color; transparent) with a lot of “cayenne pepper” (a very hot chili) “flakes” (small pieces).

Culture Note
Holidays for Barbecuing

As soon as the weather gets warmer, Americans like to “head” (go) outside to start barbecuing, filling the air with the “scent” (smell) of grilled meat and barbecue sauces. Some people say they barbecue so that they don’t heat up the house by using a stove or oven, but other people say there is something “primal” (related to ancient humans, or how people used to live) about cooking over a “flame” (fire) and eating outdoors.

Barbecues are an important part of most “Fourth of July” (Independence Day) celebrations. Friends and family members get together in backyards and parks to grill hot dogs and hamburgers before watching the “fireworks” (colorful light displays in the nighttime sky). Many people also organize barbecues for Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) and Labor Day (the first Monday in September).

Most summer “festivals” and “fairs” have many “vendors” (salespeople) selling barbecued foods like pork “ribs” (bones from the front of a person’s or animal’s torso (between the neck and stomach), with meat on them), chicken wings, and corn on the cob. Some festivals and fairs are all about barbecuing, with “tasting contests” to see which competitor can make the most delicious foods or the spiciest barbecue sauce.

Barbecue sauces “vary” (are different) by region. Grocery stores usually sell a thick, sweet, and smoky sauce that is a little bit similar to “ketchup” (a tomato-based sauce). But in South Carolina, barbecue sauce “tends to be” (is usually) yellow and has a lot of mustard in it. In Texas, barbecue sauce is brown and has “chunks” (big pieces) of meat “drippings” (drops of thick liquid and fat that come off of meat as it is cooking) and vegetables. In North Carolina, barbecue sauce is “clear” (without color; transparent) with a lot of “cayenne pepper” (a very hot chili) “flakes” (small pieces).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c