Fast food
What kinds of fast food have you tried? What are your favourite kinds of fast food? Do you ever use a microwave to cook food quickly? How popular are fast food restaurants where you live? When would you go to a fast-food restaurant? Do you think you will eat more fast food in the future?
  • Bland (adj.) - not having a strong taste or character or not showing any interest or energy.
  • Empty calories (plural noun) - energy from food containing no nutrients (= substances that keep you healthy).
  • In a pinch (idiom) - something that you can do in a pinch can be done if it is really necessary, but it will be difficult, not perfect, or not what you would really like.
  • At the end of the day (idiom) - something that you say before you give the most important fact of a situation.
  • Portion (noun) - the amount of a particular food that is served to one person, especially in a restaurant or a shop that sells food ready to be eaten.
  • Cutlery (noun) - knives, forks, and spoons used for eating food.
  • Tasteless (adj.) - having no flavour.
  • Hard to swallow (idiom) - difficult to believe.
  • Undercooked (adj.) - not cooked enough.
  • Overcooked (adj.) - cooked more than enough.
  • Aroma (noun) - a strong, pleasant smell, usually from food or drink.
  • Chipper (noun) - a fish and chips shop, or more generally a cheap fast food outlet, typically selling chips and other deep-fried foods.
  • Counterproductive (adj.) - having an effect that is opposite to the one intended or wanted.
  • Rigid (adj.) - stiff or fixed; not able to be bent or moved.
  • To indulge (verb) - to allow yourself or another person to have something enjoyable, especially more than is good for you.
  • Gulp down something (phrasal verb) - to eat or drink something quickly.
  • Junk food (noun) - food that is unhealthy but is quick and easy to eat.
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Questions and answers
M: What kinds of fast food have you tried?

R: I think it would be easier to talk about the kinds that I haven't tried, actually. Not that I could tell you much about the differences between them. They're all the same bland foods with empty calories that do the job in a pinch at the end of the day, aren't they?

M: What are your favourite kinds of fast food?

R: There are kinds? I mean, if I had to choose then probably pizza delivery. Although the portion sizes are always massive, and they never come with cutlery, which is a little bit annoying, I suppose.

M: Do you ever use a microwave to cook food quickly?

R: You picked this question on purpose, didn't you?

M: Don't you start with the eggs.

R: No, you started it. You chose this one on purpose, I'm sure. Anyway, like, yeah, I microwave my eggs, which everyone thinks is, like, I know, everyone thinks it's horrible. But to be honest, it's not as, oh, I don't know how best to describe it. It's not as tasteless and hard to swallow as it sounds. I quite like it.

M: How popular are fast food restaurants where you live?

R: Well, we only have one, and it's the Chinese place on the high street. Actually, I only ever hear good things about it. It's not like, at least what people say it is, it's not the usual undercooked or overcooked kind of stuff that's sold in these places. Although then again, maybe it's just the aroma that people are smelling as they go past. But I think it's pretty good. Or at least it smells pretty good.

M: When would you go to a fast food restaurant?

R: When I'm totally desperate? No, like, seriously, I'm joking. Actually, I get a burger and fish suppers from the chipper that's just across the street from where I live. And that's usually on a Friday after I finish the gym. I know, it sounds like counterproductive and it's a lot of empty calories, but I think I've earned it after following a rigid diet for the rest of the week.

M: Do you think you'll eat more fast food in the future?

R: Well, I hope not. Actually, I'd like to start eating less food in general, to be honest with you. But as long as I have the money I'll occasionally indulge and gulp down some junk food every now and then. Why not?
M: Fast food... Dear listener, are you a fast food person or are you a slow food person? Tell us in the comments. And Rory said that it would be easy to talk about the kinds I haven't tried. So Rory here has tried all kinds of fast food. What was the most bizarre fast food you've ever tried, Rory? Some like fried chicken legs. No, frog, frog. Fried frog or the bugs, you know, they have...

R: I've had frogs and snails before but that's not fast food. That's considered like quite, not nouvelle cuisine. What's the right term? It's considered a delicacy that takes a really long time to prepare, at least in my opinion.

M: Okay.

R: Fast food. Weird fast food. I can't think of any. I think maybe the closest thing was, we had... In East Timor, they had like noodle soup that they would serve on these carts to people. And that was quite good, because first of all, it was fast. And second of all, it was healthy. Which is unusual for fast food. But apart from that, no, I can't think of anything terribly interesting. What about you?

M: Yeah, I don't think I can... Oh, maybe in Turkey. In Turkey, they have this fast food. It's called like, I might be wrong about the name. Sorry, Turkish people. Kokoreç. Kokoreç is this thing, the meat and it can come in with a surprise. So it's a bit disgusting. So let's not go into detail.

R: Okay, well...

M: But it's yummy. It's really good.

R: Oh, there was a thing I saw on Instagram. This is, since we're talking about different countries. There was this thing in Iran. It's like crispy rice. I don't know if it's fast food or not, but it looked really good as well. Anyway, we're getting a bit sidetracked because we need to talk about the fast food.

M: Bland food. Bland food doesn't have any taste. It's just not spiced. It's just bland, like tasteless. Yeah?

R: Yes.

M: And usually we can say that fast food has empty calories. So you just eat and there are no nutrients. It's not, you know, healthy.

R: Yeah, it's just pure energy going into your system. And it doesn't really matter what the nutrient combinations are.

M: And these empty calories do the job in a pinch. In a pinch. And this is an idiomatic expression.

R: It is, yes. In a pinch just means, well, quickly and in a difficult situation. It'll do in a pinch.

M: Could you give us one more sentence with this like to do a job in a pinch? Pinch, pinch.
R: Oh, yes, so like for making repairs to clothes. A safety pin will do in a pinch. But you're probably better repairing the damage with the sewing machine. So the safety pin holds it together. But it doesn't do it like really, really well, or as well as the more professional sewing machine.

M: Sweet. When the examiner asks you about different kinds of things, you can use the strategy, if I had to choose, I'd go for a pizza, right? Because there are all different kinds of food. So if I had to choose. The second conditional. Whoa, whoa! if I had to choose, if I had, past, to choose. If I had to choose, I'd go for a pizza. Or if I had to choose, then probably pizza, pizza.

R: Pizza delivery.

M: What's your favourite pizza?

R: The biggest one I can find, to be honest with you.

M: So just any pizza, just the size. Yeah? The portion matters for you, Rory.

R: Oh, I used to order one from... When I lived in Moscow. And I still can't remember the name of it. But it had like chicken and more chicken and even more chicken. It was amazing.

M: So the pizza was just like this. Yeah? Like this size?

R: It was like chicken and cheese basically on bread. Which sounds disgusting. But I thought it was great. I loved it.

M: I love mushroom pizza. And four cheese pizza, and seafood pizza, and meat pizza, and just, yeah, pizza.

R: I shouldn't say like, I've just realized that I started off with like a really, really dull view of fast food. When you asked me the first question. So I was saying like, it's bland. It does the job in a pinch. And then by the end, I was like, oh, yeah, the Chinese restaurant is amazing. And I love pizza.

M: Empty calories.

R: So there you go. It turns out the more you engage with this subject, the greater your love for it will become.

M: The portion sizes are usually massive. So the portion is like one portion of food. And if you go to some fast food venues or places, they're usually massive, right? So they offer you some double, double everything.

R: Double everything? I don't know what that's called.
M: Yeah, like double fries, or would you like some extra? Oh, yeah, they call it extra. Extra fries or extra sauce. Would you like to add stuff? You know, to your hotdog.

R: And the answer is always yes.

M: And the answer is always yes. And then you end up with instead of like, like small whole dog, like the hotdog is like... You know, with all these toppings and this fried onion on top.

R: I would like to say that we're filming this in the morning in Scotland and I haven't had my breakfast yet. So maybe we should just keep going. This is making me hungry.

M: Hotdogs, pizza. Yum, yum, yum.

R: Now you're being mean.

M: Cutlery. They usually give you cutlery. So cutlery is these, you know, little spoons and forks and knives. Usually, they're plastic. Cutlery.

R: Well, in a fast food delivery, yeah. You could have metal ones though.

M: Metal cutlery? Really?

R: No, not from a fast food place. Like you could have your own.

M: Fancy. Like carry your own cutlery, and then you go to a fast food place. And then you order and then you kind of... Yeah, I do that.

R: Yeah, like why not? Whenever I eat pizza, I eat pizza with a knife and fork and people look at me like I'm completely insane. Like you should be using your hands. But I like it.

M: Why?

R: Because it helps me with my portion control. So if you cut things with a knife and fork and you're eating it that way, then it helps you control the amount you're eating better than just going, ah, I'm gonna eat everything and like cram it in your mouth.

M: Rory, you eat your pizza with a knife and fork?

R: Yes. I know it's weird. I've been told this before, but I don't care because it's it's nice for me. I like it.

M: What do you think? Have you ever seen a person who eats a pizza with a knife and a fork?
R: Well, you have now. And like, I don't think I'm doing badly for it. Do you?

M: No, I think it's classy, it's like style, but this is so bizarre. A pizza is like you take it with your hands, you know, you feel it with your fingers. You just touch this goodness and this like...

R: I have a theory about that actually because I used to get really bad stomachache whenever I ate pizza. Like including the crusts with my hands. And then I wondered if it was because like when you're touching the pizza with your hands. Yeah.

M: You should wash your hands before, you dirty Scottish person.

R: I did wash my hands. I wondered if it's just that, it doesn't make a difference.

M: With soap.

R: Yes, I know how to wash my hands. Anyway, when I stopped eating pizza crusts, I felt a lot better was the gist of it. But even then I was still eating it with a knife and fork. So...

M: Dear listener, do you eat pizza crust, or no? So Rory cooks his eggs in a freaking microwave, and he eats his pizza with a knife and a fork.

R: There is nothing wrong with doing either of those things. Come at me, bro.

M: And then the question was about a microwave.

R: We just talked about this.

M: And then a question was about a microwave. And then the door to hell opened up. So I couldn't help myself. So...

R: Because you're rude.

M: Do you use a microwave to cook food quickly? Sure. I put eggs in a microwave. I put my tea in a microwave. I put my, what? All the food in the microwave, fresh vegetables in the microwave.

R: There's nothing wrong with any of these things. You're just being dramatic.

M: Let's educate Rory. Please, dear listener, just tell him on Instagram, on Telegram.

R: No, let's educate you. Let us talk of the vocabulary that I used. Tasteless and hard to swallow. So if something is bland or tasteless, it just has no taste. They're good adjectives for describing terrible food. But my eggs are not tasteless when they are cooked in the microwave because I cook them with cheese and fish. It's nice.

M: Fish?

R: Yes.

M: Cheese and fish?

R: Yeah.

M: And eggs in the microwave.

R: Yes.

M: Oh my God...
R: Look, it's done no damage to me. I'm not serving this food for other people. Okay? I know other people would probably think that sounds horrible. They might, they might be right. But it's for me. It's not for you.

M: True.

R: Anyway...

M: Yeah. And it's hard to swallow. So when you swallow you...

R: When you swallow, you work the muscles in your throat and on your tongue to make the food pass into your food pipe. Your oesophagus, if you will.

M: When you talk about fast food restaurants, you can talk about fast food venues or places. And Rory mentioned a Chinese place.

R: Usually you talk about places when we talk about restaurants. So Chinese place - Chinese restaurant. Although I was thinking about it there and it does do fast food, but it also does actually meals as well. So it's kind of covering all of those needs. Anyway...

M: Sometimes the food there is undercooked or overcooked. So if it's undercooked, it's not cooked like well, right? It should be cooked for more time, if it's overcooked is just too much. Right? So it's overcooked. Not good. The aroma, the aroma of fast food.

R: It smells good. Like if you're in Britain and you walk into a fish and chip shop and you're like... Mmm, nice.

M: You're coming to a McDonald's and you just smell it like... Mmm, McDonald's. Yeah, McDonald's, if you're listening, please be our sponsor. We're going to be very happy to have you.

R: Yeah, even though we talked about like pizza and Chinese as well.

M: Rory. And do you have your kind of like local Scottish McDonald's? Because for example, in South America, they have this you know, like local. It's not McDonald's, but it's a local thing with burgers with french fries. So do you have something like this in Scotland?

R: Maybe. I don't know. I haven't seen anything like that. But then I've not really made a point of sampling all of the different kinds of McDonald's in the world. It was only, I only got into it when I was in Russia. But hold on.

M: No, I don't mean McDonald's. It's not McDonald's. It's like a local restaurant, which serves fast food restaurant with burgers, with french fries, but it's like Scottish. It's like local. It's not called McDonald's. It could be called I don't know, Scottish joy. Or Scottish burgers or, I don't know, like Scottish superfood.

R: We don't really have this. We have lots of like independent fish and chip shops. But then that's true for England also. Maybe we'll have haggis in the fish and chip shop. And in England, they'll have whatever English people have. I have no idea. But like I don't think it's quite the same. I'm trying to think. People, like Scottish people who watch this, will be like, oh my God, this thing, this thing and I'm sitting here like I have no idea what I'm talking about in the country that I live in.
M: If you're Scottish, please, let us know in the comments. Okay?

R: Yes. You'd do a better job than I can.

M: Fish and chips is traditional food in Britain and, well, in like Scotland. So fish and chips look like this. And the place where you go for this fish and chips. Is called a chipper.

R: Yes. Well, that's a slang term for food. Well, for the place, I should say.

M: Yeah, I go to my local chipper. And you can get there a burger. Chips, obviously. Usually, we call them french fries. But in Great Britain, they are called chips. All right? And this is why we have the confusion. So this is crisps, crisps, then chips in Great Britain and french fries pretty much all over the world.

R: But chips in Britain are a little bit different to French fries, because French fries are usually considered to be quite thin whereas chips in the UK are quite thick.

M: Oh, a local chippy... Chippy? You also call it chippy, right?

R: Yes.

M: Yes. Something like by the lake. Mmm... So good. So good, dear listener.

R: I am so hungry.

M: Are you hungry? Oh yeah, you should be, yum, yum, yum. Rory goes to a fast food restaurant when he's desperate. So desperate, perhaps like, you know, like really hungry. Or, I don't know, desperate, like maybe sad or upset.

R: But usually when I'm really hungry, and I need something fast.

M: And then you said that it's counterproductive because you go to the gym, you work out. And then he goes to his local chippy and devours burgers and chips and it's counterproductive. So it's not productive. Yeah. After a workout to have all this fast food. Yum, yum, yum.

R: Well, it sounds like it is. It's probably not.

M: I think it's good. It's great. So like, I devour all these empty calories. And because I've earned it. So you earn money. So I've earned it after a week of following a rigid diet. So what's a rigid diet?

R: So a rigid diet is like a strict diet where you don't really have much variety or change in it because it's supposed to help support your lifestyle. And that's true for me. Like, honestly, every day when I'm in the week, I have a protein shake. And then in the afternoon, I have a wrap. And then in the evening, I'll have eggs, and that's it. Pretty much.

M: Fast food is also junk food. Yeah? But junk food is a little bit more informal. So like junk food. And which verbs can we use to say? Like, okay, I eat junk food, I eat fast food. Rory told us I sometimes indulge in junk food.

R: But that means that you're ...

M: You enjoy it.

R: You do. Yeah. But it's like a nice kind of enjoyment. It's like, it's also expensive, to be honest with you. So it's like you buy something that you really probably shouldn't. It's very expensive in terms of your health or in terms of the money it costs or both. And you enjoy it.

M: Yeah, and you can say that I'll occasionally indulge myself and gulp down junk food. Gulp down? Remember our story about Rory and his huge burger?

R: Don't be around me and junk food. Like it's not pretty. It's so bad.

M: So the burger would be all over Rory. So he just gulps down junk food. What's your favourite fast food? Do you think it's good to microwave eggs? And do you eat pizza crust? Tell us in the comments. Oh, I need pizza! Pizza!

R: I also need pizza!

M: Yeah, let's order pizza or McDonald's. Bye!

R: Bye!
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
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